Three new classrooms, a new, larger faculty lounge, a multipurpose room and an elevator are among the primary changes unveiled in the blueprints of Bulfinch Hall’s slated renovation.
Work on Bulfinch Hall will begin in June 2012 and run into Fall Term 2012 once the project funds are finalized and the Trustees give the project their final approval.
The building will be ready for occupancy sometime during the fall term of 2012 or by the start of the following winter term at the latest, according to Jeffrey Domina, Chair of the English Department. All English classes will meet elsewhere on campus, primarily in other academic buildings, for some or all of the 2012 Fall Term.
Though Bulfinch currently features 12 classrooms, a debate room and a small faculty lounge, after renovations, the building will include a total of 15 classrooms, a new and larger faculty lounge, a multipurpose room, an elevator and new restrooms and water fountains.
The 1600 square foot addition will have two rooms, a regular sized classroom and a larger multipurpose room.
The new restrooms will be constructed as part of the addition to the building, which will be added to the building’s the southeast corner.
The elevator will take the space of one classrooms in the basement and will go through one of the current boys’ restrooms and the office space on the second floor. The space that the classroom used to occupy will also include a small conference area.
A ramp will be installed on the north side of Bulfinch Hall in an effort to make the building more handicap accessible. The ramp entrance will lead to the elevator, which will take the place of one of the southeast basement classrooms.
The central debate room will be transformed into a new faculty room, but, like much of the rest of the building, the historical taste will be preserved.
In an email to The Phillipian, Domina said, “The debate room is a sentimental space for a lot of people, but it’s some of the least efficiently used space on campus. It’s not used most of the time and even the things it is used for, it’s not really suited for, so what we’re able to do is reclaim the current faculty lounge as a classroom, because we lose one classroom when we make the building handicap accessible, and we’ll move the faculty lounge and workspace into the debate room.”
According to Larry Muench, Director of Facilities, efforts have been make to ensure that the renovated debate room maintains historical elements.
“The desk in the front will be removed, but a portion of it will remain there because it’s an important part of the room,” said Muench.
Initially, other plans for the room included creating new classrooms in the space, but the group finally settled on the new faculty lounge.
Domina said, “The current faculty lounge is about the size of one of the regular classrooms, and with 28 people in the department, we can’t all stand or work in there at the same time.”
“[The new mulit-purpose room] will be a great place for screening movies, for giving classes with visiting writers and for scene work when students are reading plays,” continued Domina.
New plumbing will involve the incorporation of usable water fountains, which the building does not currently have.
All of the doorknobs and restrooms will be adjusted to be handicap accessible. The hardwood floors throughout the building will also be refinished.
Domina said, “OPP [Office of the Physical Plant] and the architectural firm have been really receptive to the department’s interests. The AV space will be great, and the space will be good for combined classes.”
Muench said, “The classrooms will feel the same. We’ve been working to maintain the historic feel of the building, and we’re very mindful of the lobby on the first floor. Everything is going to look the same, and we’re working very hard to keep it that way. The floor will be the same in the lobby and the first floor.”
The architectural firm working with the school, Ann Beha architects, has experience in restoring old buildings. Beha architects previously worked with Phillips Academy on the renovation of Cochran Chapel. The firm added the balcony in the back.
Domina said, “This architectural firm has a great track record for taking old buildings and bringing them up to code and making them more useful for what the people want to use them [the buildings] for now.”
“The faculty is excited about it, the trustees are into it, and I think it’s going to be a great thing for everyone,” said Domina about the renovations.