Four years after the onset of the recession prompted Yale to halt plans for the renovation of Hendrie Hall, administrators said they hope construction will begin in May 2014.
The $45-million renovation of the building — which houses practice spaces and offices for undergraduate musical organizations, along with some School of Music departments — was one of the seven major construction projects put on hold in 2008 when administrators grew concerned about the University’s finances following the onset of the economic downturn. After the project received a $5-million donation in December 2011, University President Richard Levin and School of Music Dean Robert Blocker ramped up discussions with potential donors to raise the remaining funds needed for the project.
Blocker said in an email that he and Levin have received a “commitment” from Stephen Adams ’59 and Denise Adams, who gave a $100 million donation to the School of Music in 2005 that enabled the school to be tuition-free for all students. Their potential gift to Hendrie Hall “will take us to our goal,” Levin told the News last week, allowing the project to move forward next spring and reach completion by 2016.
“Within the last year, both Dean Blocker and I have solicited major gifts toward the project, and we are very close to finalizing an agreement with a donor that will take us to our goal,” Levin said.
Before the recession, the University had planned to cover a portion of the renovation costs for Hendrie Hall, Blocker said, but this financial scheme became inadvisable when the endowment lost nearly a quarter of its value in fiscal year 2009. The Hendrie Hall project will be funded entirely by gifts and “capital replacement funds” set aside by the School of Music from its operating budget, Deputy Provost Lloyd Suttle said in a Feb. 5 email.
Most of the donors for the project are Yale College alumni who “love music,” Levin said, adding that at least one of the major donors is an alumnus of the School of Music.
The Glee Club, which has rehearsed in Hendrie Hall since 1937, reached out to its alumni in December to solicit additional donations for the renovation project. The Glee Club room and Band room will be updated but will retain their historic features, Blocker said.
In an letter to the Glee Club community posted online in December 2012, Glee Club Director Jeffrey Douma announced that the Glee Club would match, dollar for dollar, all donations from Glee Club members up to a total of $250,000.
“We all share an extraordinary tradition, and Hendrie Hall has been a large part of that tradition for many years,” Douma said in the letter.
Douma did not respond to requests for comment.
Blocker said administrators have begun meeting about the project and will engage with the architects soon to review the construction plans, adding that the plans will likely be updated since they were last reviewed three years ago. He said the original designs feature a digital media room, but he added that the plans for the equipment in this room will need to be reconfigured.
“The technology features [might be] obsolete,” Blocker said. “This will transform constantly.”
Students interviewed said they think the renovations will benefit students in future years.
Lauren Hunt MUS ’13, who plays the French horn, said Hendrie Hall is “old and falling apart,” and added that it would be helpful for students to have more practice rooms, because most of the practice rooms on campus are only accessible to students with connections to the School of Music.
The newly renovated Hendrie Hall will house 35 practice rooms, compared to the seven practice spaces currently on the building’s third floor, Blocker said. He added that the renovation will also create an atrium for a student lounge, an orchestral rehearsal space and several new administrative offices, faculty studios and student lockers.
The project will also involve the construction of a four-story building connected to Hendrie and Leigh Halls.