Taylor Hall Renovation Underway; Original WSC building undergoing $21 million improvement
July 21, 2010 -- The original building on the Western State College (WSC) campus, Taylor Hall, began a $21 million renovation this summer, and will reopen its doors in the fall of 2011.
Taylor Hall, once the lone building on the WSC campus, was granted state funds for the project in 2008. In addition to necessary mechanical upgrades, improvements are aimed at meeting the academic needs of students and creating a more visible entrance for visitors to the campus.
The building underwent its last major renovation in 1986. Nunn construction is the general contractor for the project. SlaterPaull Architects are the architects for the renovation.
The new Welcome Center will be the most noticeable change to the exterior of the building. This south-facing feature will house the admissions staff and provide an obvious entrance for visitors to campus, most notably prospective students and their families.
“This will be a better introduction to campus for our visitors,” said Brad Baca, vice president for finance and administration. “It will put a much improved front face to Western.”
The Welcome Center will be located next to the existing Studio Theater.
In addition to improving the building for prospective students, current students will have a vastly improved learning environment. The first and second floors will be primarily dedicated to the Communications Arts, Languages and Literature (CALL) department. The third floor of the building will house other campus administrative and student support offices, including Financial Aid, Extended Studies and the Office of the President.
“One purpose of these changes is to make the building easier to navigate for students,” Baca said.
Significant upgrades will be made to the campus radio station (KWSB), the campus newspaper (“The Top O’ the World”), as well as spaces used by the film program and their co-curricular club, Mountaineer Media.
“Not only will these programs have new spaces and equipment upgrades, they will be clustered together to encourage interdisciplinary and multimedia work,” said John Sowell, vice president for academic affairs.
The inside of the Taylor Auditorium will remain unchanged, as will the Studio Theater. Informal gathering places for students will be created on the first and second floors.
“These spaces will be created to encourage learning and community outside of class,” Sowell said.
Classroom spaces, studios and laboratories will be improved and equipped with modern technology.
“All classrooms will be completely renovated and will be fully digitally enabled,” said Julie Feier, associate vice president for finance and administration. “There will also be a new lecture classroom on the second floor with similar technological improvements.”
The renovation of Taylor Hall will also improve the energy efficiency of the building. The project will be seeking a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, as the College has with all renovations and new construction projects, beginning with the construction of the Borick Business Building in 2007.
Mechanical and electrical improvements to the building will improve the efficiency of Taylor Hall. Sustainable building practices, recycling of waste during construction and the use of sustainable materials in construction are all being implemented. Large, south-facing windows will be installed to take advantage of passive solar energy.
“With any construction project, we aim to achieve the highest level of energy efficiency that is possible and use sustainable products where practical,” Baca said.
A new, energy efficient boiler system will be installed in the building. While this system will be a traditional gas-fired boiler, the infrastructure for a biomass boiler will be installed should this system become a viable source to heat the building.
Efforts have also been made to preserve the historic exterior of the building, most notably the brickwork. This has presented a unique challenge as the brickwork in the building comes from three separate time periods (Taylor Hall was constructed in three separate phases). Cracked bricks and stones have been fastened, cracks have been filled in and the mortar has received necessary fill-ins.
The construction is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2011, which means that doors will reopen for students in the fall of 2011 -- 100 years after the first students studied on the campus.
In the meantime, most of the faculty and administrative offices have been relocated on campus to Ute Hall, Keating Hall or the Leslie J. Savage Library.