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Summer Witnesses Kresge Renovations

By Douglas E. Heimburger
Editor in Chief

A major renovation to Kresge Auditorium has improved its usability to student groups and has made the building safer for its varied uses.

This summer, the auditorium's "life-safety"systems were replaced and the building was made fully accessible, said PhilipJ. Walsh, director of the Campus Activities Complex, which oversees the facility.

Work is nearly complete on the $5.5 million renovation, which replaced the seats in the main auditorium, improved the theater lighting system, and installed an elevator to provide access to the rehearsal rooms and the little theater on the lower level.

In addition, the renovation has substantially improved some spaces used by student groups. The two rehearsal rooms located on the lower floor now have suspended wood floors and dimmable lighting, Walsh said.

Other, less noticeable changes have been made to the building. The fire alarm system has been brought up to code and the electrical system has been completely replaced, Walsh said.

Additional changes made

Additional changes were made to the auditorium besides those that were planned as part of the initial upgrades, Walsh said.

"Once we had things opened up it was prudent to go back and put in some infrastructure,"said Michael W. Foley, associate director for operations of CAC, who oversaw the renovations.

Among the improvements were additional network connectivity for Information Systems and for MITcable, Foley said.

The 35mm projectors in the auditorium had to be removed to make space for the new equipment, Walsh said. During the 1980s, the Lecture Series Committee used the projectors frequently for its movie series.

However, recently LSChas been using the projectors "about once a year,"Walsh said.

Additional projects included upgrading the sound system in the main auditorium and the little theatre and replacing the acoustical "clouds"in the main auditorium.

An all-new lighting system was installed in the main auditorium, with presets for various event groups, Foley said. As a result, the space can be reconfigured much more quickly.

In December, a specialty contractor will be installing an automatic stage extension in the facility that will allow the width of the stage to be adjusted within a few minutes, compared to hours today.

Both the main auditorium and the little theater are nearly continuously booked. The changes were designed to "make it a more friendly building for students,"Foley said.

The Chapel is in the process of being modified to become fully accessible, Walsh said.

Additional work planned

While many aspects of the facility have now been brought up to date, additional renovations need to be done on the facility, Walsh said.

Replacement of the glass exterior walls of the building and of the building's mechanical systems are planned and have been budgeted for, Walsh said.

The repairs, if done all at once, would take about 12 weeks, Walsh said. Because the building has been booked well into the future, planners are now considering ways to do the work in sections so that the building does not have to be completely closed again, Walsh said.