The timber beams and steeply pitched roof of Observatory Lodge are a sharp contrast to the modern School of Public Health Building and the surrounding residence halls.
The Tudor-style lodge across from Mosher Jordan Hall on Observatory Drive is a mystery to most students who pass it daily on their way to and from class.
The building looks like it belongs in a dusty, old Bavarian town much more than the Hill neighborhood.
The six-story lodge was originally built in 1930 as an apartment complex to house hospital staff. It featured stain-glass windows, animal-themed plaster reliefs and a Tudor-style fireplace in the lobby.
The University purchased the building in 1966 and began using it as a 34-unit family housing apartment building in 1987.
The building has been relatively lifeless since it was closed in December 2001 when the University evacuated the last 19 occupants because of concerns about the reliability of outdated fire safety and electrical systems.
The aging structure’s parking lot is now lined with construction materials, and the lodge will soon be reopened with a new purpose.
An $11.5 million renovation project to adapt the building into the Division of Kinesiology’s new home is nearing completion.
Jim McIntyre, a spokesman for the Division of Kinesiology, said the renovations are on schedule to be completed by August.
No architectural changes will be made to the building’s exterior, and many of the Lodge’s Tudor style interior elements will also be preserved, McIntyre said.
The lobby – which features a fireplace, original lighting and several plaster reliefs with squirrel motifs – will be restored and left in the building’s Tudor style.
The remaining space will be modernized to create classroom and office space for the Division of Kinesiology.
In the end, the building will be a strange mix of modern and gothic elements.
The Board of Regents approved schematic designs for the project in June 2005 and approved issuing project bids in May 2006.
The project is the first time the building has undergone major renovations since it was built.
When the building is finished, the Division of Kinesiology will have 18,000 square feet of classroom and office space.
Source: The Regent’s Book