Outdated Tyler Hall next up for campus renovations

(Devon Nitz | The Oswegonian)
(Devon Nitz | The Oswegonian)

With the Shineman Center complete and the demolition of Snygg Hall set to begin, construction crews now turn to the next project: the renovation of Tyler Hall.

Tyler Hall was built in 1965 and, with the exception of normal small-scale updates, has seen no other work since that time, according to Tom LaMere, Oswego State director of facilities planning and design.

“The building has the original finishes, mechanical systems, windows, doors, and structure,” LaMere said. “The building has been reprogrammed to meet current needs and needs a total new makeover.”

Students and faculty who spend time in Tyler have heard rumors of renovation over the last few years and are relieved that work on the building will finally begin soon.

“Yes, the renovation is long over due,” theater professor Kathleen Macey said. “The air and heating really need to be done. And the theater, including the stage, need upgrades in electrics and other areas.”

Before its classes were moved to the new Shineman center, Snygg Hall, also built in the 1960s, had problems that students and professors regularly complained about. Tyler Hall is no different.

“The lighting in Tyler Hall is awful,” student stage manager Kellie Mcmenemon said. “The lab theater is extremely dark and a hassle to work in. The practice rooms are in extremely bad shape and need serious attention. A lot of students use them whether they be music or theater students. These rooms have awful acoustics and are very dusty, and nowhere near sound proof.”

The plans for the renovation are still in the developing stage. Phase one of the project is being finalized at this time, which the construction budget has $20 million for.

According to LaMere, phase one of the renovations will begin in May 2014. The plan calls for a complete change of the current entrance from the east side to two new entries on the northeast and southeast corners, one on the Culkin Hall side of the building and the other on the side facing Mahar Hall. The upper lobby will be increased in size to provide a larger gathering space. A two-story instrumental rehearsal room will be created in the corner facing Culkin.

“New practice rooms, ticket booth, toilets, coatroom, and offices are in the design,” LaMere said.

New and efficient mechanical systems, AV systems, fire protection finishes and exterior improvements and new furniture are also in the design plans, among other things.

“Art, theater and music students can be in Tyler Hall from sunrise to sunset,” Mcmenemon said. “A huge change we would all like to see in the renovation would be some sort of café. Because our work hours are so long, most of us never have the chance to eat properly, and even just a cup of coffee can make or break a project or a performance. Another change we would like to see in the renovation would be a more inviting environment. For an arts building, Tyler Hall does not demonstrate the talent of the art students enough. It would be nice to see Tyler Hall display more of the art work, the galleries are great but the hallways and Waterman Lobby would become so much brighter with some more art.”

One of the main highlights of the building is the Tyler Art Gallery, which displays traveling exhibitions, locally produced loan exhibitions and the best work of the students and faculty, in a variety of art forms. This feature has been carefully looked at and construction crews plan to put a considerable amount of updating into it. According to LaMere, the two galleries will combine to one larger one.

“I’m very excited about the renovations to the gallery,” gallery director Michael Flanagan said. “I understand that all wall and floor surfaces will be updated. A new track lighting system in the gallery will have improved versatility and should reflect recent developments in thinking about lighting artworks. The gallery’s temperature and humidity control will also be greatly improved; an important aspect of art preservation. All of this should add greatly to Tyler Art Gallery audience experience.”

The plan to protect the gallery’s current art collection is to move it off-site during renovations to a facility dedicated and designed to fill the art’s specialized storage needs.

The other prominent feature of Tyler Hall is Waterman Theatre, which houses performances put on by students in the theater department and other special gatherings and shows.

“Waterman Theatre is extremely outdated,” Mcmenemon said. “Theater technology has increased rapidly throughout the past few years and Waterman has stayed still. For example, our dimmer pack is ancient and a pain to work with. If a new dimmer pack is included in the theater’s renovation, it would make an extreme difference.”

The entire theater will be completely renovated and will include new seating, sound systems, lighting, control room, stage, catwalks and orchestra pit elevator.  The replacement of the mechanical systems, along with a new passenger elevator, are also included in phase one, according to LaMere.

The relocation plans for Tyler Hall classes and faculty offices during the renovation process are still being determined. The building’s costume shop began planning on moving out during the summer and the process is ongoing.

“All of our dates at the moment are tentative,” Macey said. “We are still learning and planning the move. The planners and the dean are working on where we will teach classes.” Macey said.

LaMere said the bulk of classes would be temporarily held in Hewitt Union in the old Earth Sciences department rooms, which recently moved to Shineman.

“Just like the sciences, what we need in order to teach the classes will happen,” Macey said.

Construction on Tyler Hall is scheduled to be completed by December 2015.