Thompson Hall Renovated For Style and Function


Andrew Esielionis, Staff Writer

Since the beginning of February, the courtyard just behind the Hammond building has been occupied by pickup trucks, fences, and trash chutes. Thompson Hall had a major problem with accessibility, in which a section of the second floor was inaccessible to those unable to utilize stairs. Renovations for accessibility aside, other changes will be made to the building.

The renovation is being done by the Capital Planning and Maintenance department, which handles different functions for the university, like renovation projects, and daily maintenance, cleaning, power plant operation, and grounds care. The Capital Planning department does everything from mowing the lawn to giving the university buildings overhauls.

Mary Beth McKenzie, the Associate Vice President of the Finance & Administration department, said this through email: “We will be making a variety of improvements to Thompson which will result in a renewed building, addressing similar needs as addressed in Percival and McKay.” 

Thompson itself is quite outdated in comparison to a building like Percival, where renovations came to a close in late 2019. Grey, dim-lit rooms with rolling desk chairs and window-mounted air conditioners are a staple of Thompson’s second floor.

“The work includes a refreshed look to the building.” McKenzie says that flooring, paint, lighting, and other design elements will be changed throughout the first and second floors, in order to “honor the history of the building while also providing a fresh look.” 

According to McKenzie, the renovation will also provide “improved functionality, including classrooms designed to facilitate active learning, updates to technology and building systems, an office suite for nursing faculty, replacing individual cooling units with an HVAC system, upgrades to the fire protection system, and completely updated and accessible restrooms [as a part of Phase 2].” 

KcKenzie also noted that renovations don’t stop there, and that there are many more changes planned. On the first and third floor, firm chairs sit behind aged tables. Some students take issue with the current furnishings of Thompson’s classrooms. Many chairs are missing an arm or two, and the loss of arm chairs is a clear pattern. 

McKenzie had said on a phone call that the inventory of furniture is being looked over, and depending on the state of what’s already there, new chairs of the same model could be bought to replace the broken ones, or all of the chairs could be updated to a newer model. However, furnishings will likely change in classrooms being overhauled for “active learning.”

The main lobby on Thompson’s first floor is also getting a change in style and layout. “We are working with the architect to finalize a furniture plan — especially for the lobby — to enhance these changes to provide a comfortable, updated, and attractive environment,” McKenzie wrote. The renovation is currently set to be a two-year long project, with two phases.