Richardson Hall renovation caps ASU campus renewal

(07-17-2013)

"So the last shall be first, and the first last."

That certainly applies to campus renewal at Adams State University. Adams State's first structure, historic Richardson Hall, will be renovated through the recent award of state capital construction funds. Its central wing was constructed in 1925, and it originally housed all of the college's classrooms, offices, library, and auditorium.

"We are very excited to finally begin renovating Richardson Hall," said Adam State President David Svaldi. "There is a lot of history in this building, and it is an important community landmark."

Renovation work will begin in mid-December, with the goal of completion by December 2014, according to Bill Mansheim, Adams State vice president for Finance and Governmental Relations. Community information meetings this fall will give local subcontractors the opportunity to bid on segments of the project.

"Richardson Hall is considered the heart and soul of our campus, and it is imperative we maintain and restore its historic character. Richardson Hall will continue to proudly bear the inscription, 'Adams State Normal School.'" Mansheim said. As another example, the Luther Bean Museum, originally the library, will be left intact, while upgrading the building's mechanical systems and structural integrity.

The main objectives of $16.9 million project are to replace electrical, plumbing, and heating/cooling systems to achieve energy and resource efficiencies, and to improve the building's accessibility in accordance with ADA regulations (Americans with Disabilities Act.)

The planning and design process kicked off this week, as denizens of Richardson Hall met with members of the design/build team of G.H. Phipps Construction and OZ Architecture. Phipps built Adams State's Porter Hall, and the two companies have collaborated on projects at Pueblo Community College and Colorado College, among others. They are also working on restoration of the State Capitol dome in Denver.

Rick Petersen, lead design architect with OZ Architecture, said, "We are inspired by this opportunity to bring back this building's luster and to upgrade the structure without impacting its current aesthetics. We are inspired and sympathetic to the historical integrity."

About 125 employees work in Richardson Hall; the 64,641-square-foot edifice houses most of the university's administrative offices, as well as the museum, Upward Bound, Extended Studies, Nursing Department, and Richardson Hall Auditorium. The 10,396-square-foot auditorium venue is used for a number of community events, in addition to Music Department performances. The building's third floor will be restored to maximize space usage.

Capstone of campus renewal

The Adams State campus has been transformed through $65 million in improvement projects over the last seven years. The centerpiece is the new Residences at Rex student apartment building and stadium facility, which faces the North Campus Green. Renovations were made to Plachy Hall, McDaniel Hall, the Music Building, Leon Memorial Concert Hall, and student residence halls. Campus parking was expanded, and new playing fields were developed for baseball, soccer, and softball. The third floor of Porter Hall was completed and Zachies Planetarium was renovated, both through Title V funding to support STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.) The former Evans School building on the East Campus was renovated to house the Department of Human Performance & Physical Education. Renovations continue in student housing, and work is underway to upgrade the outdoor track and erect a High Altitude Training Center.

The Richardson Hall project will be completed in phases, allowing some employees to continue working in the building, with others relocated to the East Campus.

Phipps Vice President Gary Constant said, "We know how to work on a building that remains occupied, and will work to assure the safety and convenience of the employees." For example, when possible, particularly noisy activities may be schedule during the evening.

By Julie Waechter