November 16, 2011

Alumni Hall phase one underway

The long-awaited renovation of Alumni Hall is finally seeing progress.

Phase one of the construction process is visibly underway, and upon its completion in the spring, the exterior of the building will have a number of its essential features restored.

The decisions made in the renovation of Alumni Hall have consistently focused on maintaining its historical accuracy. The architect Holabird and Root, which was originally hired to take on the project a few years ago, has now been re-hired. Early in the renovation process, their representatives met with Director of Facility Services Scott Maust and others to do a design consultation.

“Once the design was done, we had to send it to both the National Parks Service and the Illinois Historical Preservation Agency for their approval,” Maust said. “What was done before that was research on what [Alumni Hall] looked like through photos, through the archives. That got sent to those two departments, and they reviewed it and made additions, corrections. Basically, what they’re trying to do is have us restore it back to what it looked like originally.”

Although maintaining Alumni Hall’s original appearance is of high importance, the building must also be made safe and useable. Thus, the renovations involved in phase one include new stairs, walkways, stonework and handicapped parking. The biggest changes to the building’s image will be evident in the additions of landings to the tops of the stairs and a new driveway on the north side of the building, which will be made of stamped, colored concrete instead of the original brick.

None of this would have been possible without funds received from the Save America’s Treasures Grant and generous donations from alumni.

The latter will become quite important in raising the approximated $10 million needed to fully complete the renovation.

“[President Amott] is looking for a couple of big gifts, and if you get a certain amount of those, then — this is the way fundraising works — other gifts come in,” Dean of the College Lawrence Breitborde said; he has been a part of the task force. “[Fundraising] is going to come principally from private individuals.”

Provided the funds come in and the plans work out, the renovation of Alumni Hall should be complete by next fall. And there are already a few plans for what the building will be used for.

“Alumni Hall is, in some ways, the gateway to campus,” Breitborde said. “There will be a Welcome Center, sometimes referred to as a Heritage Center, that celebrates the combined history of the city of Galesburg and Knox College.”

Also included will be the Lincoln Studies Center, but aside from these two features, there are still many options for what the building will house. Some ideas involve moving Admissions, Financial Aid and the Center for Research and Advanced Study into Alumni Hall, along with creating some formal lecture spaces that could also be used as classrooms.

Regardless of what the building will be used for, many are pleased to see that it will be used at all.

“There’s a long history with Alumni Hall,” Maust said. “It’s a very unique building. It’s got a lot of history, especially with campus and with Galesburg. In a lot of peoples’ eyes, it was too nice to destroy.”

Students are also looking forward to its renovation.

“It’s definitely a positive to our campus,” sophomore Caleb Thompson said. “I think it would be a gorgeous facility if we could renovate it and get it back into use.”

Sophomore Arianna Elnes shares similar sentiments about the renovation.

“I’m really excited about it. I’m really happy that it’s happening while I’m here at Knox.”

Chelsea Embree
Chelsea Embree is a senior majoring in creative writing and minoring in art history. She previously served as co-mosaic editor and as an arts and features reporter for TKS. During the summer of 2013, she served as a content intern at The St. Louis Beacon. Chelsea has studied under former Random House copy chief Sean Mills and taught writing as a teaching assistant for First-Year Preceptorial. An avid blogger, she has written extensively about youth in St. Louis and maintains a lively poetry and nonfiction blog on Tumblr. She is also the director of communications for Mortar Board and co-president of Terpsichore Dance Collective.

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