Amidst a jumble of equipment and workers, the grounds on which Hill Auditorium stands provide images of what existed prior to its construction.
“We’ve found pre-1913 house foundations,” Dewey Sexton, construction superintendent, said. “Old medicine and whiskey bottles were also found.”
Through the renovation, Albert Kahn’s architectural reputation has reiterated itself.
“We’ve mostly found architectural dimensions and things,” Tom Whitaker, project manager for the University, said. “Albert Kahn’s building is extremely well built.”
At this point of the renovation, the building is virtually empty, with all the seats and ramps pulled out. In the colorless and dark building, outlines of new additions are taking form in empty areas.
Some of the new additions will include a 20 foot deep mechanical room for equipment and a backstage lower-level basement for a technical and electrical area to be used as utility space, mechanical room and instrument storage area, Whitaker said.
Part of the lower-level basement will be the site of a lobby connected by a new grand marble staircase about 10 to 12 feet wide.
“The lower lobby will have a concession area, an area for catered dinner and additional restrooms,” Diane Brown, facilities and operations spokeswoman, said.
“The old ticket area will be replaced with restrooms and the new ticket area will be more convenient for patrons to come in and pick up their tickets,” Whitaker said.
A new west addition will enable increased accessibility throughout the auditorium.
“It will provide circulation and general building access,” Whitaker said. “People will be able to go to the front and back without going outside.”
With the replacement of mechanical and electrical infrastructure for heat ventilation and air conditioning, patrons will no longer experience stuffy and hot performances.
Hill Auditorium is also undergoing major external repairs to enhance the overall appearance of the building.
“Exterior repairs will include thorough brick cleaning, repair of terracotta and limestone above the columns in the front of the building and replacement of windows and doors,” Whitaker said.
The interior of the building will be painted in its original color scheme of grays, blues, green-grays, golds and deep red-browns used by Albert Kahn, replacing the current colors, Whitaker said.
The renovation, costing $38.6 million, is on schedule and is projected to be finished in December 2003.