H.B. Crouse Renovations Planned for Summer 2015
A major renovation of Huntington Beard Crouse Hall planned for summer 2015 will significantly improve the building’s accessibility, upgrade Kittredge Auditorium and bring a number of other improvements to the building, which dates from 1961.
Most of the interior construction work will take place on the lower level, where Kittredge is located, and in the Gifford Auditorium lobby level above. The project illustrates some of the opportunities and challenges presented by the renovation of an older, “classic” building.
Kittredge needs a floor-to-ceiling makeover, which presents the opportunity to bring it up to current accessibility code standards by including accessible seating dispersed in the auditorium and installing assisted listening devices, among other things. Adjacent restrooms, currently inaccessible, will be expanded and designed to meet current code with the addition of a new accessible single-occupancy restroom.
A key component of the overall project is the installation of a new elevator to provide access to the Gifford Auditorium lobby, something the current elevator does not do. Because of stairs between the main entry and the Gifford lobby, someone using a wheelchair must go around the outside of the building and enter through a doorway from the courtyard between H. B. Crouse and the Hall of Languages to gain access to Gifford or the accessible restroom on that level.
The new elevator will provide suitable access, and will be easier to use: The cab of the elevator will be larger, with doors on both sides, and control panels in two locations, all improvements over the current one. However, the new elevator also presents a challenge: The dimensions of the elevator shaft will keep the cab five inches short of the optimal depth. Still the change, with state approval, will provide significantly enhanced access.
The University community will have an opportunity to learn more about the H.B. Crouse Comprehensive Improvement Project and to comment on it. Presentations are scheduled for noon on Wednesday, Nov. 19, in the Huntington Commons area, and at noon on Tuesday, Dec. 2, in Room 500 of the Hall of Languages. Joseph Alfieri of Campus Planning, Design and Construction, the senior project manager, will be the presenter.
To give people a chance to try out the dimensions of the new elevator, a mock-up of the cab has been constructed and will be placed in the Huntington Hall gathering area from Nov. 17-21, and in the HBC lower level lobby from Dec. 1-5.
The community will be able to provide feedback on any aspect of the project via email at email@example.com. The email address also will be posted on Accessible SU, the University’s accessibility web portal.
Members of a working group that has met to discuss the renovation project expressed their support for it and for the opportunity for people to provide feedback.
“I’m pleased and encouraged by the strong efforts being made by Campus Planning, Design and Construction, in partnership with many on campus, to amplify appropriate access and to create greater opportunities for communication across our campus community,” says Diane Wiener, director of the Disability Cultural Center and a research associate professor in the School of Education. “It’s important for people with and without disabilities to participate in decisions that affect us. I think it’s great that people have a chance to share their feedback in terms of their direct experience in how they engage with this space.”
Paula Possenti-Perez, director of the Office of Disability Services, says: “The Office of Disability Services applauds the efforts of Syracuse University and the Office of Campus Planning, Design and Construction to provide the opportunity for our community to participate and provide feedback regarding the HBC Comprehensive Improvement Project.” She called it “A model project that embraces accessibility and inclusion as a core component of the project—a project intentionally designed to look at access first.”
The renovations are scheduled to begin the day after Commencement and be completed by mid-August, 2015.
Other aspects of the project include:
- installation of fire service and sprinklers in the lower level and an upgrade to the building’s fire alarm system;
- construction of a ramped corridor on the lower level, which will provide convenient access to the new restrooms and allow for the removal of a metal ramp;
- installation of new lighting and flooring in public spaces on the lower level, as well as improvements to the Gifford Auditorium lobby; and
- integration of site work and landscaping in the outdoor courtyard between H.B. Crouse and the Hall of Languages.