Trustees approve upgrades

The Board of Trustees Facilities Committee announced Feb. 28 that it would approve funding for the completion of the lower level and atrium of the new Tyler School of Art building, currently under construction. Also

The Board of Trustees Facilities Committee announced Feb. 28 that it would approve funding for the completion of the lower level and atrium of the new Tyler School of Art building, currently under construction.

Also announced were plans for a complete renovation of Temple Towers and an 18,000 square-foot addition to Presser Hall.

The committee unanimously approved more than $76 million to complete the 11,000 square-foot lower level of the new Tyler location, which will accommodate the formerly separated art education and art history departments, with the addition of an atrium that will connect Tyler with Presser. The new building will total 250,000 square feet. More than 80 percent of the equipment used in classrooms will be brand new.

An art studio is also scheduled to be constructed in Peabody Hall, where a majority of incoming Tyler students will be living when the new facility opens in spring 2009.
The majority of funding for the project will come from $61 million in state funds and $7 million in university funds. An additional $7 million will come from fundraising and an internal loan made by the university to Tyler, which will be paid back through fundraising.

While it’s a large loan to repay, “this plan will encourage Tyler to ramp up its fundraising efforts [because it will improve the quality of the school],” Facilities Committee Chairman Mitchell Morgan said.

A renovation of Temple Towers was also approved and will take place over the summer of 2009 to minimize disruption to students living in the building. Initially, the project was to be completed this summer, but the remainder of 2008 will be spent designing and planning for the renovations to assure they run smoothly and that no students will be displaced.

The project is scheduled for completion by the time students move into the building for the fall 2009 semester, at a cost not to exceed $26.75 million.  The committee said the requested
funding will enable a complete renovation to Towers, including new mechanical and electrical systems, as well as updated heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

All finishes will be replaced, including new flooring, ceilings, lighting, kitchens, bathrooms and other amenities. Renovations also include updated fire alarms and a new sprinkler system.
Temple Towers has received no upgrades since 1971, and committee members said they believe the renovations will make the building more modernized and aesthetically pleasing.

The third significant announcement made by the committee was that of an 18,000 square-foot, two-story addition to Presser Hall, which would extend the building westward to 13th Street. The project will be completed in conjunction with the new Tyler School art building for the Spring 2009 semester at a cost not to exceed $7.1 million.

The first floor will contain a new lobby and atrium, classrooms, practice rooms, offices, a teaching studio and loading dock. The second floor will be shelled for future programming.

The main entrance will thereafter be through the atrium connecting Tyler to the new Presser addition. Construction on the project has already started, and is expected to take about 11 to 12 months to complete.

“This project will provide a permanent solution to space concerns the school of music faced with classrooms, offices, teaching studios and student meeting space,” the committee said in a statement. “The present project will correct these serious deficiencies.”

Also announced were plans for a new lighting system and seating at the Bell Tower at a cost not to exceed $750,000, and the sixth phase of a plan to upgrade classrooms by building 20 new smart classrooms at a cost not to exceed $983,400.

Upon completion, 48 percent of the 303 classrooms at Temple will be smart classrooms. Eventually, the number will be 80 percent.

“Technology, which was once viewed as being supplemental to instruction, is now seen as being integral to instruction,” the committee said. “Additionally, students are arriving on campus with increasingly higher levels of technological literacy and greater expectations of what technology the campus will provide them.”

Brad Larrison can be reached at