Dwight Hall awaits changes

Dwight Hall is preparing for major renovations slated to begin in May 2007, which will call for a remodeling of the building’s interior but less substantial changes to the exterior of the building.

Officials and student volunteers at Dwight Hall have begun meeting with architects to discuss construction plans that call for the addition of air conditioning, Ethernet access and the re-configuration of bathroom and kitchen spaces in the building, which has not been renovated since 1931. Dwight Hall officials said they expect the renovations to last over a year, displacing the many student organizations that currently use the building.

Students will have to hold activities in a transitional space during the facility’s renovation, Dwight Hall co-coordinator Laura Huizar ’06 said, although the renovation committee has yet to decide where this transitional space will be. Huizar said she hopes groups can move to a location close to central campus that will attract many students.

“We may have to use a different venue for our meetings and events, but it shouldn’t be a big inconvenience,” said Alpha Phi Omega coordinator Jodi Smith ’08, whose organization uses Dwight Hall space.

The building’s exterior will remain largely unchanged in order to retain its historical character, Dwight Hall Director Johnny Scafidi said. There will be minor alterations to provide more convenient building access and the building’s facade will be cleaned, but the end product will look exactly the same as it does now, he said.

The Dwight Hall Project Management Team, a group comprised of members of the Dwight Hall’s board of directors, staff and student volunteers, began meeting with Philadelphia-based architectural firm Voith and McTavish earlier this year.

Revamping the inside of Dwight Hall is crucial because about 3,000 Yale undergraduates use Dwight Hall every year to organize initiatives in the Yale and New Haven communities, Scafidi said. The current configuration is obsolete and inconvenient for the growing number of students who flock to Dwight Hall each year, he said.

“[Dwight Hall] isn’t a high quality meeting space for student-run organizations to hold events in,” Scafidi said. “The space should be laid out in a more constructive fashion.”

Dwight Hall co-coordinator Ben Staub ’06 said Voith and McTavish stood out among other firms during the selection process because of their responsiveness to student input and the quality of their past projects. Dwight Hall Executive Director Katherine Burdick said the firm’s vision for the project matches that of the Dwight Hall community.

“We’re just really excited to be working with the architects because their goals are consistent with ours — the adaptation of historic spaces to contemporary use,” she said.

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