By Amy Taylor
The McClurkan Building will be undergoing some major renovations beginning in May.
“Since it’s the most iconic building on campus, we wanted to return it to a primary use facility,” David Caldwell, executive vice president for administration and finance, said.
In the spring semester of 2010, inspectors cited critical structural issues that need to be dealt with in the short-term “if we wanted to maintain the integrity of the structure,” Caldwell said.
Once administration got approval to go ahead with the reconstruction plans, administration began working on the plans in December. There were no construction plans drawn up in December, but administration has been working with an architect for the past four or five weeks, Caldwell said.
The cost of the reconstruction of the McClurkan Building is estimated to be somewhere around $5 million dollars, Caldwell said.
The foundation in the McClurkan Building has weakened, the structure has settled and the support of the timbers in the roof trusses have weakened as well.
Both students and faculty constructed the building in 1944, and some of the installation and wood is still there from the original construction.
“It’s the kind of wood you just don’t find in a modern lumber yard,” Caldwell said.
The McClurkan Building was renovated in the early 1980s and recently in Dec. 2009, as a result of emergency repair that needed to be done to the stage in the auditorium.
Also, there was no air conditioning in the building until the renovations done in the 1980s. As a result of these renovations to the building, the supports in the attic were weakened, Caldwell said.
“There’s a number of things like that there where the building needed some attention,” Caldwell said.
Another major factor in the decision to renovate the building is that larger classroom space is needed.
“[The McClurkan Building] is ideal for just about any class to meet,” Caldwell said.
Reconstruction plans are getting drawn up by the board of trustees in March before getting approval and beginning construction.
And although the plans have “changed…and will continue to change,” the tentative plan is to wall-off the upper level seating in Benson Auditorium, Caldwell said. Behind that wall there will be a 70-person classroom and restrooms.
In the long-term, there are hopes to have another 70-person classroom on the third floor of McClurkan, but in the meantime, the religion department’s offices will be on the third floor, as well as more restrooms and a smaller classroom.
On the bottom floor, the plan is to “gut that and redo it” with three large classes on the west side. On the opposite side, there will be three smaller classrooms along with bathrooms.
There will also be a north side stairwell and closed elevator.
On the outside of the building on the main floor entrance, their will be a ramp coming off, as well as a stairwell on the Southside.
Because seating will be minimized in the auditorium where plays are put on by the theater program, some changes might need to be made concerning where the plays are show.
“It will be a smaller, more intimate theater in that regard,” Caldwell said.
However, in the long-term, “that stage will be unchanged,” he said.
Because not as many students will be able to fit into the auditorium, administration is aware that that will be a challenge in some ways, Caldwell said.
Administration has talked to the church on campus and discussed how their space can be more accessible for student use, he said.
Other options are outdoor plays or the use of the Boone business Building for student activity.
“I know there’s a trade off for the Boone Building,” Caldwell said.
The ceilings are lower, and there are concerns about how that will affect the use of the building, he said.
Jeff Frame, associate professor of theatre and film at Trevecca, said in an email that “as of right now, no plans are set yet for the 2011-2012 TNU theatre season line-up.”
But the theater program does realize that the reconstruction of the auditorium will play a part in where they have their plays and how extravagant the plays will be.
“I do know that the performance venues for our theatre productions next year will depend largely on the particular plays selected for the season,” Frame said in an email. “But the season…will be chosen with an eye toward maximum flexibility in terms of the staging requirements.”
The plays might be simpler compared to past plays put on by the theater program.
“It’s safe to say that we won’t be doing anything quite of the same technical magnitude as Singin’ in the Rain in the fall,” Frame said in an email.
The program is not letting the reconstruction get in the way, however.
“Whatever we do, though, it’ll be very right-brained and creative….Tapping into the same minimalistic and intuitive spirit as a production like Seussical will be one of our goals next season.” Frame said in an email.
Decisions about the upcoming theater season will not be made until March or April of this year, and they will not be finalized until June, Frame said in an email.
The aim for the completion of the reconstruction of the McClurkan Building is the spring semester 2012.
“That is what we’re hoping,” Caldwell said.
However, administration does realize that there could be setbacks.
“We’re not counting on [the desired completion date]. We’re assuming there will be some surprises,” Caldwell said.