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July 7, 2011 Volume 32, No. 33

Renovations complete, Tate and Switzler reopen for business


UPDATED TATE Dan Dodd, an Ellis Library employee, takes in the view from a large window on the third floor of the recently renovated Tate Hall. The renovations of Tate and Switzler Hall were accomplished using a new model based on sustainability and financial stewardship. After two years of displacement, faculty and staff began moving back into the two buildings this week in preparation for the 2011-2012 academic year. Shane Epping photo


Projects added new classroom and office space

Faculty and staff began moving into Tate and Switzler halls this week, following renovation of two of the university’s oldest academic buildings.

Tate and Switzler received major facelifts, including new plumbing and electrical systems, central air conditioning and wall-to-wall carpeting. Funded by $19 million in bond revenue approved the UM Board of Curators in 2009, the renovations also added 280 new classroom seats and 34 faculty offices.

The four-story brick-and-stone Tate Hall, built just east of Jesse Hall in 1927 to house the law school, is now home to the Department of English. The building was gutted to reconfigure the interior space, including removal of the two-story law library “stacks.”

Light fixtures and handcrafted items such as handrails, cornice work and interior trim were recycled from the original structure.

The Switzler project includes an 8,000-square-foot addition on the southwest side of the building. The north interior wall of the addition features the original exterior wall, which architects left exposed for aesthetic reasons.

Both buildings are outfitted with energy conservation measures, such as automatic lighting and heating and cooling systems, and have been updated to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Gary Ward, associate vice chancellor for facilities, says the Tate and Switzler projects represent a new model of sustainability and financial stewardship that maximizes resources in tough budget times. Architects bidding on the projects submitted their qualifications electronically, lowering the cost of preparing a proposal. Ward also brought in a construction manager to work closely with the architect and to build a team that could deal quickly with any challenges that might arise.

Existing maintenance funds were used to pay the bonds that funded the renovations, Ward said. And, in addition to recycling fixtures and materials from the original buildings, both projects feature identical color and design schemes, which also saved money.

“Everything we did was so we could bring a taxpayer or a parent into the building and they could be proud of what we’re trying to do with their dollars,” Ward says. “Everything looks very nice, but there is nothing over the top. It’s sheetrock, paint, vinyl base and new carpet.”

Ward says he will use the same approach when renovations begin next year on Gwynn Hall for the College of Human and Environmental Sciences. More than 30 of MU’s core academic buildings need renovations, at a projected cost of more than $500 million.