Alice Hooker, former office manager of the Charles M. Hall Building at Berea College, remembers coming in to work on a Sunday to feed her pet hedgehog which she kept in her office.
As she opened the front door, she hears the rush of water.
The building floods as she frantically attempts to call for help. The hedgehog was saved, but the building was not. Unfortunately, flooding is not the only issue with the Hall Building.
Built in 1927 with 50,1000 square feet of classrooms and laboratories as well as a geology museum, the Hall Building was the central location for students looking to further their careers in the sciences. However, the building had a lot of problems which forced its closure.
Berea College facilities management teams and independent contractors began demolition of the Hall Building on Monday after a delay in the schedule caused by open valves of hydronic lines.
Hooker has worked with Berea College long enough to see the fall of the Hall Building and the rise of the new Margaret A. Cargill Natural Sciences and Health (MAC) Building.
Now the office manager of the MAC building, Hooker tells the story of the Hall Building through the plants that survived the move to the MAC building.
Hooker’s original title was as science librarian as she oversaw the library of scientific journals that moved into the building.
According to Hooker, the Hall Building’s issues greatly impacted her job. She remembered the ceiling leaked if someone left a sink running for too long.
“I got to where I could tell what sink was running,” she said.
President Lyle Roelofs also had his fair share of issues with the building. When he taught physics in the building, he remembers the poor insulation.
“I would wear my winter coat during office hours,” he said.
According to Roelofs, a major consideration against renovation is the lack of sustainability in the building. It is not cost-effective nor sustainable to heat a building which does not retain the heat.
These issues were raised in the decision to either demolish or renovate the building. According to Roelofs, the building lacked the space for up-to-date scientific equipment and STEM-related departments.
Additionally, any renovation would have to be started from the skeleton of the building as the rest of the building was too old. However, even the structural skeleton of the building was failing.
Last year, the Board of Trustees came to the final decision to demolish the building after extensive research and recommendations by multiple committees.
The demolition is a part of a two-phase plan of renovations and building updates beginning with Draper’s renovations in 2000. After the demolition of the Hall Building, the Danforth Technology building is next as President Roloefs said that the building is the worst-performing building, both in terms of energy efficiency and accessibility.
According to Roelofs, a new building will be built on the land that will feature technology disciplines such as Computer Science, Digital Media, and the Information Systems and Services (IS&S) department. The college anticipates the building to be larger than the Hall Building with two entrances — a feature absent from the Hall Building.
“The students who are majoring in Computer Science are often times working in IS&S and thinking about careers working in technology, so having that academic program and the administrative division in the same building makes a ton of sense,” Roloefs said.
Although the new building will not be completed for some time, residents and visitors can expect demolition to be completed by August 23.