July 03, 2003
Design planning begins for Morrill Hall
by Debra Gibson
Nearly a year after President Gregory Geoffroy announced plans to renovate
Morrill Hall at a cost of about $9 million, architects have initiated plans
to redesign the 113-year-old building's interior.
To date, more than $4.6 million has been raised for the project. All comes
from private gifts except for $850,000 from a state buildings appropriation
that will be used to construct a classroom and a conference room.
At its May meeting, the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, approved hiring RDG
Bussard Dikis, a Des Moines firm, to create a schematic design for the
project. The firm will be paid $211,723 for its work.
This summer, architects are meeting with identified Morrill Hall tenants to
determine the building's myriad design needs, according to Roger Graden,
associate university architect. The three programs to be housed in Morrill
Hall are the Christian Petersen Art Museum, the new Center for Visual
Learning in Textiles and Clothing and the Center for Teaching Excellence.
The classroom and conference room also will be available for university-wide
"Initially, a feasibility study was conducted to see how those entities
might fit into Morrill Hall, and how the spaces needed to be arranged,"
Graden explained. "Now, we're getting into the details -- what these
programs need for electrical service, if they need water hook-ups, how to
handle treatments for windows, floors and ceilings."
While Graden stressed that the renovation designs still are very
preliminary, he confirmed that the Christian Petersen Art Museum will be
located on the second floor, formerly home to the building's chapel.
"President Geoffroy has said he wants to keep the quality of the space as
original to Morrill Hall as we can," Graden said. "We think the museum
gallery is a good fit there."
Nonetheless, Graden said the renovation of the building shouldn't be
considered a true restoration.
"We certainly want to be sensitive to the original architecture," Graden
said. "And we don't foresee altering the exterior, other than with new
windows. The entryway will need to be altered to comply with the Americans
with Disabilities Act for accessibility, and we'll be updating all the
restrooms for ADA as well.
"We definitely want to bring back some of the original glory that was
there," he continued, "but it will be somewhat different. We're hoping to
restore the flavor of the original building."
The architectural firm will present the completed schematic design to the
regents at their September board meeting, Graden said. Once approved, the
firm will spend several months drawing up detailed plans and creating
construction documents. Actual renovation work is slated to begin sometime
between July and September 2004, with a proposed move-in date set for early
The ISU Foundation's fund-raising efforts for the Morrill Hall renovation
got a boost last month when alumna Barbara Raeder Palmer, State College,
Penn., pledged $250,000 for the art museum.
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
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