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Annie May Swift Renovation to Begin

June 6, 2006

Work will start this summer on a major renovation of Annie May Swift Hall, one of the oldest surviving buildings on the Evanston campus.

The structure, which dates to 1895, is home for faculty and staff of the School of Communication departments of performance studies and radio/television/film and for The McCoy Foundation Studios of WNUR.

The building, an Evanston Historic Landmark, will get a complete makeover, including extensive interior improvements, preservation of historic features, and minor restoration, tuckpointing and window replacement on the exterior.

The entire 27,000-square-foot building will be vacated during the construction, which is expected to be completed in the fall of 2007. Faculty and staff will move temporarily to space in the 1800 Sherman Avenue Building, and WNUR, housed in the basement and first floor, will be relocated to a new permanent home in the basement of the 555 Clark Street Building.

Little remains of Annie May Swift Hall's original interior structure because of improvements made over the years. The north section was added to the original structure in the 1920s, and that end of the building was renovated in 1995 to accommodate WNUR in the basement. Other past upgrades have included renovation of the auditorium, installation of life safety systems, rebuilding of the south stairs, installation of an accessible ramp on the east side of the building and restoration of the exterior east stairs.

The three-story building has offices and rooms in the basement and second and third floors. The first floor includes the Peggy Dow Helmerich Auditorium (named for actress Peggy Dow Helmerich, a member of the School of Communication Class of 1948 who donated funds for the renovation of the auditorium) and two seminar-style classrooms. A classroom is at the north end of the third floor.

The project will include renovation of faculty and staff offices; restoration of both seminar-style classrooms on the first-floor; renovation and restoration of the Helmerich auditorium as a theatre/lecture hall for films, lectures and panel discussions; construction of an elevator serving all floors; and installation of a first-floor flexible teaching area, similar to a black-box theatre, for performance studies.

A chair lift that has provided access from the garden level to the first floor will be removed. The garden level on the east side of the building will be maintained as an accessible entrance to the building.

Mechanical, electrical and plumbing facilities and life safety systems will be replaced. The renovation will include lavatory facilities on the garden level and second floor, and the garden level window wells will be enlarged to provide more natural light. A second stairway will be installed at the north end of the building. A fire escape on the east side of the building will be removed.

The restoration of historic elements will be guided by Harboe Architects. A historic preservation report was provided by Anne McGuire and Associates.

Susan Budinsky, Facilities Management construction projects manager, is project architect for the project, and the Austin/AECOM firm is the architect/engineers.

Topics: University News