Newly Renovated Bulfinch Hall Reopens

After a seven-month long, $6.25 million renovation project, students, staff and faculty were able to walk the newly renovated halls of Bulfinch Hall at the reception for its reopening on January 2.

Funded by alumni, parents, Oscar Tang ’56, former President of the Board of Trustees, and Tom Israel ’62, Charter Trustee, the project commenced in early June 2012 and was completed over Winter Break, according to Jeff Domina, Instructor and Chair in English.

The need to update the building’s aging structure and fix its failing utility systems prompted the renovation, according to Larry Muench, Director of Facilities.

“Interiors were upgraded, elements of the exterior were upgraded, including the entire cupola, and a new elevator and handicap accessible ramp was installed at the northern end of the building,” said Muench.

The project was a chance to address the building’s deferred maintenance issues, get the building up to accessibility code and adapt the classrooms for new technology, according to Domina.

The renovations include new audiovisual equipment in each classroom, new bathrooms and a new multi-purpose room in the basement. The multi-purpose room was built attached to the building, and Bulfinch’s original brick walls still remain visible in the hallway and the side of the new room, according to Domina.

“The large multi-purpose room is decked out with new A/V equipment, making it great for film screenings, master classes with visiting lecturers, scene work and whole array of activities. In a lot of ways, that room will serve well the purposes the old Debate Room was acutely used for but didn’t serve particularly well,” said Domina.

The addition of the elevator caused the loss of a classroom, which was reclaimed by converting the old faculty lounge into a new classroom, according to a previous article in The Phillipian. The Debate Room, in turn, was converted into a new faculty lounge.

Domina said, “[The Debate Room] was one of the most inefficiently used spaces on campus, yet we didn’t want to chop it down into a classroom or a bathroom… Previously, we had a regularly sized classroom as the faculty lounge, and with 30 people in the department, we couldn’t all stand in there, never mind work or do anything.”

The replacement of the Debate Room has caused the Philomathean Society (Philo) to move its weekly club meetings to the new multi-purpose room and other classrooms in Bulfinch. During the renovation, Philo held meetings in the Chapel.

“Logistical headaches aside, the renovation hasn’t really affected Philo activity in a significant way,” wrote Haonan Li ’13, Co-Head of Philo, in an e-mail to The Phillipian. “There was a lot of history in the Debate Room, and it’s a pity that no one will speak at that podium ever again. It’s unreasonable, though, to expect the needs of the English Department to remain static across a century.”

“I think [Bulfinch is] beautiful,” said Stephanie Curci, Instructor in English. “What I’m most excited about, however, is the fact that we are all back in the same building again, because it’s good for camaraderie and collaboration.”

The preservation of Bulfinch’s historic features was always a concern throughout the seven-month construction period.

“[The architects] wanted to keep [Bulfinch] the old, beautiful building it was but also make it suitable to our needs,” said Domina.

“For those elements that we [couldn’t] keep intact, such as old doorknobs, we’ve found creative reuses for them. We look forward to a wall of coat hooks [in the new faculty lounge] made from the historic knobs,” said Domina in an article on the Andover website.

The renovated building also features new tables, built from the pin oak trees surrounding Bulfinch that were cut down during the construction, according to Andover’s SmugMug photo gallery. The carpenters also embedded 2012 pennies in the tables to fill in wood knots.

Domina said, “You might recall some ugly light fixtures that took away from the character of the old building. They replaced those things with [fixtures] more functional yet more complimentary to the design and aesthetics to the original building.”

Seth Bardo, Instructor in English, said that he will miss the old stone water fountains that were removed in the renovations.

“I will miss the beauty of the old fountains. I know that they were no longer usable because of the piping, but they were beautiful objects. They had to be replaced. I just admired the workmanship of those fountains,” said Bardo.

Construction was conducted in an environmentally friendly manner, according to Muench.

“[The project] upgraded plumbing and electrical fixtures to meet today’s energy and plumbing codes, which are more sensitive than in previous years,” he added.

In line with the eco-minded construction process, the roof of the new multi-purpose room features a roof garden, which allows the capture and use of rainwater in Bulfinch.

The English Department decided to hold an open house reception on January 2 to showcase Bulfinch’s additions and renovations.

Before housing the English Department in 1936, Bulfinch was, at various times, the main academic building on campus, a dining hall, a gym and was once gutted by an 1896 fire, according to Domina.

The renovation project was conducted by the Ann Beha Architects and Consigli Construction Company and overseen by John Galanis, Project Manager.

Ann Beha Architects has previously been employed by Andover for a number of projects, including renovations on Cochran Chapel, according to Domina.

“We’re really grateful to all the people who’ve been involved in the project: the generous friends and alumni who supported it, our colleagues and OAR [Office of Academy Resources], all the people at OPP [Office of Physical Plant] and John Galanis—he was fantastic start to finish—and everyone around campus who accommodated us when we were scattered around campus,” said Domina.