University Trustee Ronald Rettner has created the Ronald Rettner Campus Improvement Fund to refurbish and renovate existing buildings on campus. Construction on the third floor of Morey Hall will begin this summer.
Plans include restoring the original structure of Morey Hall, which used to have a large foyer acting as a public leisure space at the main entrance. Currently, five offices stand in place of this lobby. The walls will be removed and the offices relocated to different floors as a part of construction.
Executive Director of Campus Planning Design and Construction Management Jose Fernandez said the goal for the new space is to imitate the atmosphere of the popular Welles-Brown room in Rush Rhees Library, with comfortable seating and enhanced woodwork characterizing the space.
Overall, the entire space will be refurbished with fresh paint, contemporary light fixtures, improved ventilation systems, and air conditioning, as most rooms in Morey currently rely on opening the windows for circulation.
“The goal here is to bring it up to more contemporary standards in terms of lighting and heating and ventilation,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez said that the true value of the project lies with the opportunity Morey presents in terms of the historical integrity of UR.
“What’s really precious about Morey is that it hasn’t seen a lot of renovations, so a lot of the old character is still there and intact,” he said.
UR President Joel Seligman also noted this in a press release from UR Communications.
“A project such as this is especially important because it helps preserve the historical foundation of our University,” said Seligman.
The plan is to complete construction by the start of the Fall 2014 semester, but Fernandez conceded that it may run into September as they are getting to a relatively late start.
With regards to interference with student life, Fernandez said that by September most of the construction still taking place will be low-impact, namely the final painting and carpeting. The bulk of the highest-impact activities, centered mostly around the removal of walls, asbestos abatement, and ventilation installation, will be completed in June and July.
With regards to Morey’s functional relatedness to Rettner Hall and the new Digital Media Studies major, Fernandez said they do not have any plans past revitalizing the basic infrastructure of Morey Hall, but that “if Rettner [Hall] becomes more successful […] we would grow some of those programs into Morey over time, and as we do that, we would bring that kind of technology into Morey”.
Fernandez noted Rettner’s investment in already-existing buildings. He said many investors in college campuses across the country are interested in giving gifts to new buildings, but “[Rettner] talks a lot about revitalizing neighborhoods by taking old buildings and making improvements”.
“They’re fundamentally tired buildings, and he wants to give them a fresh look,” Fernandez said. Other renovation projects have been taking place on UR’s campus recently, with the creation of Rettner Hall, the new plans for Fauver Stadium, and the refurbishing of the Fraternity Quadrangle this past summer.
Other projects in the works are the building of a new classroom and new bathrooms in Gavett Hall and refurbishing the Dewey 101 classroom.
“I believe that we’re constantly reinvesting in our buildings […],” Fernandez said of these changes. “They need a face lift to continue to make them relevant and useful.”
McAdams is a member of the class of 2017.