Old Main makeover mixes new look with original features

Originally Posted Online: April 26, 2013, 7:51 pm
Last Updated: April 26, 2013, 11:52 pm
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By Anthony Watt, awatt@qconline.com

The remodeling of Augustana College's Old Main initially stripped the building to its bones, but its new incarnation is nearly complete and retains several of its original defining features.

Old Main was built from 1882 to 1889 and modeled after the main building at Uppsala University in Sweden.

Renovations include a new interior layout, upgraded technology and centralization of most of the mechanical, heating and cooling systems and other functions on the ground floor. There will be a journalism lab, radio studio for the student station (WAUG), conference rooms, more bathrooms and a larger elevator.

In January, the metal beams that formed the ribs of the walls were bare, the floor uncovered and the classrooms unfinished. Work on the building is being done in stages, with the fourth floor first. On Friday, that floor looked almost ready for classes.

Reddish brown cherry paneling covers many of the walls, and the floors are covered in dark carpeting or cork tiles. The classrooms, still empty, are starting to be equipped with smartboards and other fixtures.

"This floor is pretty well done," Dennis Hittle, college capital projects coordinator, said.

The second and third floors are awaiting finishing touches -- while the ground floor still is under construction and was filled with workers on Friday.

Among the old elements that still are central in the new design is the original chapel on the east side of the building and the heavy, load-bearing pillars that greet people on each floor as they use the main stairwell.

"We've also tried to keep some of the same features that were central to its purpose early on," W. Kent Barnds, Augustana's executive vice president, said.

Over the years, the chapel, with its high, cathedral-style stained glass window, had been covered over and essentially become a stairwell, he said.

It again will be a gathering space for speakers, performances or study. The window is the centerpiece of the space, filtering rainbow-colored sunlight over the room.

The floor on the next level is cut away around the window, creating a column of open air. A balcony has been built into that floor, allowing for full views of the window or activity below.

The $9.8 million interior renovation was paired with a makeover of the exterior nearly two years ago that cost about $3.2 million. It included a new roof and windows.

Work on Old Main is expected to be ready for classes in the fall.

Two other capital projects also are moving forward.The 35,000-square-feet Center for Student Life project will be part of the Thomas Tredway Library and include an upgraded coffee shop, centralized and expanded dining services for about 800 and a conference room that can seat 700. It should be done by August.

On Friday, workers were in one of the dining areas,installing and painting duct work and putting up the metal frames that will support the walls. In another area, drywall and ceiling panels were being installed.

About $8 million in upgrades are underway at the football and track stadium.

The Austin E. Knowlton Outdoor Athletic Complex will include the Charles D. Lindberg Stadium, the Ken Anderson Academic All-America Club and the Players' Plaza and Viking Patio and Overlook.

Lindberg will include a three-story grandstand and team facilities. The stadium will accommodate 1,800 and include a press box and rooms for entertainment and recruiting.

The Anderson Academic All-America Club will have televisions and social space, while the Players' Plaza will provide a new entrance to the Knowlton Complex and gathering place for fans.

Spectators also will be able to watch games from the patio and overlook.

On Friday, workers were installing beams on the high steel frame that will become the multi-use complex that will dominate the north end of the field.

It is expected finished before the first games in September.


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