Sprague opens to rave reviews



For the first time in two years, Yalies can hear concerts in the newly renovated Sprague Hall, and freshmen can party in the refurbished Vanderbilt Hall courtyard. But Piersonites are going the year without their college as it undergoes renovation, the latest part of Yale’s decade-long campus rebuilding plan.

Pierson’s renovation is part of the 13-year effort to renovate all 12 residential colleges. Last year, the University refurbished Vanderbilt Hall, a freshman dormitory, in lieu of a residential college.

The School of Music’s Sprague Hall, meanwhile, was finally completed this summer after Yale hired a new firm, Turner Construction, to finish the project. The original construction firm, Princeton, N.J.-based Durell Builders, filed for bankruptcy early last year. Yale has planned two concerts and a banquet this weekend to celebrate the opening of the building, which features new air-conditioned, new restrooms, practice rooms and office space.

Arch Currie, Yale’s director of project management, said the renovations retained the recital hall’s classical architecture but added state-of-the-art audio and lighting features.

School of Music Dean Robert Blocker said he is pleased with the renovation.

“It’s a wonderful performance space for our students, faculty and the plethora of distinguished arts who perform annually here,” Blocker said. “The hall has a wonderful history at Yale.”

With the opening of Vanderbilt, freshmen in 10 of the 12 residential colleges once again live on Old Campus. Last year, freshmen in Morse, Ezra Stiles and Berkeley colleges lived in swing space because the Vanderbilt renovations decreased Old Campus housing space.

The dorm, which now houses Berkeley and Branford freshmen, boasts new skylight windows and a five-foot-deep moat area that makes space for windows in basement suites.

Berkeley freshman counselor Katie Pricola ’04 complimented the renovations’ historic features but said Vanderbilt does not compare to a renovated college.

“I don’t think they changed the size of the rooms,” she said. “They’re pretty, but it’s still freshman housing so I don’t think upperclassmen would be knocking on doors to live here.”

Like the previous four residential college renovations in recent years — Berkeley, Branford, Saybrook and Timothy Dwight colleges — Pierson will be completely upgraded, Currie said. Eighteen new bedrooms will be built in a new, fabricated building, which will be placed in the courtyard formerly known as “The Beach.”

Additionally, Pierson’s basement will be connected with Davenport College’s basement. The master’s and dean’s offices will be relocated and air-conditioning will be installed in all public spaces in the college.

Currie said the Pierson construction is on schedule after getting off to a slow start early this summer. The college is expected to re-open in July 2004.

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