Swing Space Students, faculty settle into relocated classrooms
By Greg Rienzi
Photography by Will Kirk
September 15, 2008
With Gilman Hall’s rooms off-line during its renovation, the School of Arts and Sciences knew a space re-shuffle was needed. The question: Where do we put everyone?
Faculty offices, administrative spaces, and seminar rooms went to Dell House, a university-owned high-rise on the corner of North Charles and 29th streets. The loss of Gilman’s 15 pooled classrooms, however, posed a different problem. With no single tidy solution in sight, school officials had to get creative.
This fall, students are seeing the results of that creativity as they find their way to recently relocated classrooms around campus.
A small team of representatives from Arts and Sciences, the Registrar’s Office, and the Office of Facilities Management began meeting early last year to identify potential temporary sites for classrooms—either existing spaces or rooms that could be renovated.
The team selected Dunning Hall to pull up the majority of classroom slack. For Dunning, the renovation of Gilman has offered the seemingly forgotten 42-year-old building a second life.
Dunning Hall, located directly behind Remsen Hall, opened in 1966 and previously housed chemistry laboratories. The Chemistry Department left the building in 2003, when the new 56,000-square-foot chemistry building opened. For nearly three years the building was nearly vacant, until 2006 when the school moved its Integrated Imaging Center to the building’s first floor.
A feasibility study determined Dunning could be renovated for classroom use, and the construction work began last summer to ready the space in time.
Martin Kajic, Gilman project manager for the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, said the renovation of Dunning was "a big task" that presented some logistical problems.
“The biggest challenge was that we had to put in an all-new air handling unit. The existing one was just too old and not in good order,” Kajic says. Construction crews punched out a hole in the building’s side, near the roof line, so that a crane could put in the new unit. The building also needed updated fire alarm and sprinkler systems, and new restrooms.
The old labs, of course, had to be demolished, and in their place went 12 new classrooms, each outfitted with new lighting, carpeting, paint, audio-video components, electrical outlets, desks, and chairs.
Kajic says that during the design process, he and others consulted with the Registrar’s Office to determine the layout of the classrooms, from general space requirements to how many of them needed white boards or chalkboards.
Each room features windows and glass-panel doors that look out into the hall.
Todd Shepard, an associate professor in the Department of History, says he appreciates the limited view. “The rooms have ample light and I, personally, see not being able to look directly outside as a positive, no distractions for the students,” says Shepard, who is teaching a course on Race and Empire in Dunning this fall.
In addition to Dunning, space was identified in the Mattin Center (two classrooms), Shriver Hall (one classroom in the building’s boardroom), Garland Hall (two classrooms) and Charles Commons (two classrooms). Both the Mattin Center and Charles Commons classrooms were existing spaces that mostly needed desks, chairs, and boards.
Pier Lawson, a professor of history who this fall teaches classes in the Mattin Center rooms, says he doesn’t pine for the old Gilman Hall days.
“I don't think many faculty miss the classrooms on the basement level of Gilman Hall,” Lawson says. “In my opinion, they were among the least attractive places to teach on campus because of malfunctioning heating, lack of cooling, unattractive furniture, and inadequate technology infrastructure. Views out the windows were typically poor.”
When the faculty and students return to a renovated Gilman in 2010, they will find classrooms with quite modern amenities within the building’s historic exterior. A large lecture hall and reconfigured Donovan room will have state-of-the-art technology, similar to what’s found in Hodson Hall. The other rooms will be outfitted with projectors, screens, and VCR/DVD players.