Archive for Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Renovations under way at Wescoe Hall auditoriums; Underground expansion project to begin June 1

May 24, 2011


Chairs and fold-out desktops await removal from the steps of Wescoe Hall at Kansas University. The items had been removed Monday morning from two auditoriums, which are being renovated.

Chairs and fold-out desktops await removal from the steps of Wescoe Hall at Kansas University. The items had been removed Monday morning from two auditoriums, which are being renovated.

Construction crews ripped out chairs, tore away carpets and pulled down wall coverings inside Wescoe Hall’s two large auditoriums just up the concrete stairs from Wescoe Beach.

Now the real work begins.

Crews are busy remodeling both the George P. Waggoner Auditorium and the William P. Albrecht Auditorium, each formerly home to 500 or so padded seats that had been bolted to the floor for decades.

By noon Monday — the day after Commencement — crews had stripped the walls down to their studs and had left the stair-stepped floor as exposed concrete. Chairs and fold-out desktops filled one large roll-off Dumpster outside, while others awaited in a pile.

“The interior finishes in those lecture halls are original to the building,” said Jill Jess, a university spokeswoman. “One of the things they are doing is removing those finishes and going into the infrastructure in the walls so they can improve technology in those lecture halls.”

The auditorium overhauls are only the beginning of major work going on inside Wescoe, base for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and among the busiest buildings on main campus.

At the ground level, The Underground is set for a $475,000 expansion beginning June 1. The work will be financed by student fees to be charged during the next nine years.

The Underground is run by KU’s Memorial Unions and includes food and beverage operations: Chick Fil-A, Jump Asian, Pizza Hut and a grill and salad bar. Those won’t change, but the project will include relocating the site’s convenience store and coffee bar, spreading them out to reduce congestion, especially at lunch.

“They’ll move faster and allow us to serve faster,” said David Mucci, director of the Memorial Unions. “It solves the problems both in front and in back of the counter.”

Customers also will get even more room to sit: 140 seats will be added to the 275 already there thanks to removal of a stairwell.

Like the auditorium work, The Underground’s expansion is slated to be finished by the time the fall semester begins — giving new looks to two of the busiest classrooms and some of the most popular dining options on the main campus.

“Now, if we could only do something about the front of it,” Mucci said of Wescoe’s gray facade, which he acknowledged as having served the campus well despite lacking the attractiveness of the rest of Jayhawk Boulevard. “The concrete isn’t warm and embracing.

“Maybe someday.”


begin60 6 years, 3 months ago

Wescoe represents the original academic nightmare ---for me totally symbolic of the quality of education and employment KU offers. An edifice built to honor bureaucratic incompetence, no doubt! For a long time the elevators were out during some other renovation project that was going on--wonder how long this one will take. No doubt a lot of people will be totally inconvenienced.

LogicMan 6 years, 3 months ago

"Demolition by neglect" not being allowed to happen?

Wasn't it supposedly sliding down the hill anyway?

auntiesocial 6 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for posting that link, good info Bunny.

Clark Coan 6 years, 2 months ago

It is totally out of place on Jayhawk Blvd. I've urged the KU architects to put on a stone facade which matches nearby buildings but so far they have ignored that advice. I'm sure a millionaire alumnus would pay for such a facade.

Eddie Muñoz 6 years, 2 months ago

Seems perfectly in place to me now that it's been around for so long and we've all become accustomed to it.

lama 6 years, 2 months ago

Tear it down. Hopefully some deep-pocketed benefactor puts up the money for a new building some day.

ccp 6 years, 2 months ago

When did underway become one word? Did AP change that? I've seen that a few times this week on the JW site.

ohjayhawk 6 years, 2 months ago

According to the Merriam-Webster website, underway is a valid word with a first known use in 1743.

parco814 6 years, 2 months ago

The building doesn't look good in any way, shape, or form from the outside. But it has been improved tremendously in the past few years on the inside. The "Wescoe Beach" area has basically become an outdoor version of the Kansas Union, since student unions are meant to be spaces that are public and where students can interact freely. The building known as the Kansas Union looks great outside and inside, but there's little in the way of public space for students. Now it's mostly taken up by retailers and resembles a mall or an airport food court. The effects of globalization, for sure.

Good to know there will be further improvement work done at Wescoe.

verity 6 years, 2 months ago

"brutalistic architecture" indeed.

After all the money that has already been spent renovating it, I doubt it will be torn down any time soon. Yes, the exterior is ugly and doesn't fit the context, but even if that were changed it wouldn't solve the main problem. The worst part is the interior---so many rooms without windows and the decorating gives it such an institutional/prisonlike feeling.

KU_cynic 6 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps the heirs of Wescoe would pony up a gift in exchange for removing Clarke Wescoe's name from this monstrosity, allowing him to rest in peace.

KU_cynic 6 years, 2 months ago

...and then KU would be free to name this unsightly edifice for Lew Perkins: not very pleasing on the outside, and even nastier on the inside.

itwasthedukes 6 years, 2 months ago

I hope this is a green renovation and they reuse all of those chairs.

verity 6 years, 2 months ago

I wondered about that too, but from the photo it looks like they're being junked.

Marci Francisco worked very hard to find new homes for the many desks that were taken out of Wescoe when they renovated the classrooms a few years ago and I believe many of them were recycled to organizations that had need of them.

George_Braziller 6 years, 2 months ago

I had many classes in Wescoe during the early '80s but the one thing that is a constant in my memory is the smell. Every room had an aroma of dust and wet dogs.

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