At the Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts, Smith College has begun a $6.2 million renovation of the buildings. Work began just before the holiday recess in December and is now ongoing inside the building. Substantial portions of the demolition work required were completed while the faculty, staff and student body were away during break. We are now at the stage of working to reconstruct areas in the building and are preparing for extensive summer work inside the building and extensive spring and summer work on the exterior. The full scope of work will be completed by mid-August. The architect for this project is Perkins Eastman Architects in Stamford, Connecticut. The contractor is A. R. Green & Sons, who are also completing work on the Lyman Plant House and beginning work for the Ainsworth/ Scott Gymnasium addition.
The focus of the renovation is to improve both the efficiency and quality of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems throughout the building and to repair the exterior envelope of the building. Special attention is being paid to the costume and the Josten Library collections. In addition, new life safety systems and improved accessibility at each level of the facility area planned. A smaller but not insignificant program upgrade is planned that will provide new and enlarged storage space for the theatre costumes and the Josten Library music collection. Lastly, a new multi-use/multimedia classroom will be enclosed in the lounge area of the Upper Gamut.
The design of this project is geared toward maintaining the dramatic architectural detailing of the original building. The most visible changes to the facility will be the new Gamut classroom, the new elevator just outside of the Hallie Flanagan Theatre entrance, and a refurbished exterior facade. The elevator is recessed into existing space within the building and provides access to all levels of the main theatre building. For the first time since the construction of the Mendenhall Center, wheelchair-bound patrons will have access to the upper lobby of the theatre, the upper courtyard, the upper gamut, and the theatre box office. The new multi-use classroom will provide additional teaching space for the theatre and dance departments. The room will have modular furniture that can be removed to take advantage of a new sprung dance surface. It will also be equipped with digital audio and visual capabilities.
On or around April 1, exterior work will begin at the facility. Staging will first be installed on the Belmont Avenue side of the building as work begins to repair the brickwork, slate roofing and the gutters. At two- to three-week intervals, the staging and workers will slowly work their way clockwise around the Mendenhall Center completing their work on the Green Street side of the building by mid-summer. More immediate work to replace the air handling equipment in the Josten Library will take place over Spring Break. Change-out of the air handling equipment will close the music library from Saturday, March 15, through Sunday, March 23, at 2 p.m. This temporary closing will allow the new ventilation equipment to be in place so that Josten staff and collections can remain in the building throughout the humid summer months.
The Mendenhall Center, Berensen Dance Studios, and Josten Library will be closed to all events and to the public for the summer recess.