Friday, November 17, 2006

Altgeld Hall renovation

I’ve been reading about whether SIU should build or improve existing classrooms and facilities. I’m not a financial or business person so I don’t know how much it would cost either way or where the money comes from. I’m relating what I experienced during my student years compared to what I’m experiencing right now in Altgeld Hall.

I was a music ed. student at SIU from fall 1966 until I finished on campus winter quarter of 1970 and spent nearly 5 days a week in Altgeld Hall during most of that period. The place was dismal, cramped, had no storage, sound blasted through the walls of neighboring practice rooms, etc. I sang in Choral Union about 5 or so years ago and sat in what looked like the same folding chairs in the choir room that looked exactly the same as it had in 1970. This semester I’ve been singing in the Choral Union in the newly renovated Altgeld. I recently sang in a choir which recorded a CD with SIU orchestra personnel and faculty in the huge, state of the art recording studio. Every time I walk through the halls and sit in the new acoustically correct choir room I just shake my head in awe. Dr. Bob Weiss, director of the School of Music, gave me a tour of the facility after my recent move to Carbondale. The comparison of the building before and after the renovation is like night and day. I’m sure that in its current state it would tip the scale in favor of SIU for potential music students. Pre-renovation, the building would have been a good reason to go elsewhere.

I found a site about the Altgeld reno that has a video of the dedication ceremony and a video of Dr. Wendler using the renovation to plug his Southern 150 plan at the time. If money can be found for such a huge improvement of ancient Altgeld Hall, can’t it be found to improve many existing campus buildings and classrooms as well? Would it be more cost effective than building new places?


PeterG said...

When you are talking about 100 year old buildings like Altgeld, they were really messed up before renovation. They really dumped a lot of money in there and rebuilt it pretty much from the ground up. I'm sure they replaced every surface (floor, wall, ceiling) inside. They added on, the built a breeze way, new roof, it was a 100% solution.

The money for Altgeld came from the state. They make a big list and pick from the top. The next state gift should be the new aviation tech and auto tech at the SI Airport. I think the price is $41M.

When you are talking about a majority of campus that needs renovation, they were built in the 50's and 60's. It is going to be a lot cheaper to fix them to build new.

Figure that a new building will cost $500 per square foot or more for SIU to build and renovation of the whole campus will average $100 per square foot.

They have enough classroom space, it just needs to be modernized.

tom said...

Here's a virtual tour of NIU's Altgeld...