September 12, 2003
Hamilton Hall renovation worth the wait
by Dave Gieseke, LAS Communications Office
A much-needed feature in the renovated Hamilton Hall is a student
study/commons area (pictured above), constructed in space created by removing
the photography darkroom and moving the former south entrance to the west
side of the building (below). Photos by Adam
With just $2 million to spend on renovations to Hamilton Hall, the faculty
of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication were hopeful there
would be enough to fix some exterior features and update some of the student
Joel Geske, associate professor and associate director in the Greenlee
School, recalled that when the initial bids came in, faculty had their
fingers crossed. Maybe that helped.
"The bids came in about 10 to 15 percent under budget," Geske said.
So much under budget, that additional plans were made.
The oldest part of Hamilton Hall dates to 1940, but three additions have
created lots of unpredictable corners, stairwells and level changes. Adding
to the challenges of the building was a large increase in enrollment over
the last five years. The Greenlee School currently has more than 1,100
"The building was so overcrowded, we would have students sitting in
hallways," Geske said.
"Additional" space was created by removing a photo darkroom made obsolete by
digital photography, and removing the south entrance to the building and
replacing it with a west foyer and entrance addition. The school also picked
up the space vacated by the International Studies Office when it moved to
the Memorial Union last year. Other components in the renovation involved
The main administrative offices were remodeled. Existing faculty offices got
a makeover and more were added -- where the journalism library once was --
for the fast-growing academic department. In fact, the whole east wing of
the building was renovated for faculty and administrative offices, Geske
The new Hamilton Hall also includes:
To save money, the faculty opted to complete the renovations in a year,
instead of a three-phase plan over three years.
- A relocated reading room equipped with electronic resources for
undergraduate and graduate students.
- Commons area where students can work on group projects and meet, and
guest professionals can hold public forums.
- Three updated classrooms. The number of classrooms in Hamilton Hall
hasn't changed, but all are equipped with computer and video instructional
- Better traffic flow, particularly on the main (first) floor.
- A renovated academic advising center.
During the year, faculty doubled up in the remaining offices. Only one
classroom was available in the building.
"It was tight quarters but we managed," Geske said. "In the end, I think we
have a building that can serve as a good home for the students of the
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
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