A remodeled MacKay Hall Auditorium is shown in this schematic design by Brooks Borg Skiles Architecture Engineering LLP.
A remodeled MacKay Hall Auditorium is shown in this schematic design by Brooks Borg Skiles Architecture Engineering LLP.

MacKay Hall remodel to bring better learning environment

An Iowa State University auditorium that was once a premier facility for plays, dinners, and dances will soon be transformed into a state-of-the-art interactive classroom in the remodeling of MacKay Hall.

Remodeling of the two-story Catherine J. MacKay Auditorium, built in 1926 and named after the longtime dean of home economics, is scheduled to begin May 13 after students take their spring 2013 finals. Construction will last for a year and will preserve historically important components of the auditorium.

The work is part of a $3.1 million remodeling of MacKay Hall that also includes a student welcome center for the College of Human Sciences, a major upgrade to a second-floor classroom, and a more functional vestibule.

“We will be able to make so much difference in the learning environment for students who will be in the MacKay Auditorium,” said Pamela White, dean of the college. “Also, the remodeled classroom and welcome center will provide us with a much higher-quality space.”

New face of the college

welcome-centerThe remodeling is expected to increase visibility of the College of Human Sciences and knowledge of its fields of study, which include education, kinesiology, apparel, events, hospitality management, food science and human nutrition, human development, and family studies.

That’s because it will give prospective students a central place to go, with a new welcome center in room 118 of MacKay Hall that student recruitment specialists say will give those students and their families a better first impression of the college.

“The welcome center will be a greatly appreciated addition to our recruitment efforts,” said Darlene Fratzke, the college’s student recruitment coordinator. “It provides a flexible space so we can have lecture-style seating, as well as tables for activities during our large-group visits. It has a smaller, comfortable seating area where we can chat with one or two families. With the central location, we will have the opportunity to make our programs more visible to the campus as a whole.”

The current dark lounge will be brightened with more glass and natural light. Student recruitment specialists will move from their current offices in Lagomarcino Hall into new offices in MacKay room 118.

Auditorium moves to stadium seating

In the auditorium, wooden lapboards, faulty acoustics, poor visibility, uncomfortable seats, and an isolated balcony will be replaced with stadium seating, swivel chairs for interactive work between students, better accessibility, and large monitors for improved visibility.auditorium-from-level-2-2

“We need to update this room to meet the needs of the students that we have today, and obviously the students for the future,” said Bob Bosselman, chair of the Department of Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management.

The renovation will maintain the original character of the auditorium by reusing and refinishing much of the wood that’s in the current room. The chandelier will be sent to a lighting restoration specialist and returned to its original location. The portrait of Catherine MacKay will be moved into the auditorium. The room will also be brought up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards for accessibility.

“There was a big push to try to maintain the original character of the auditorium,” said Matt Cole, project manager with Brooks Borg Skiles Architecture Engineering, LLP. “This is really a respect of the past, but also providing the classroom with a learning environment.”

Completion of Iowa State’s 400-seat Troxel Hall auditorium is expected to alleviate some of the need for classroom space as MacKay Auditorium is taken out of commission for a year. Ultimately, the renovation will also decrease the number of seats, from more than 300 to 220, with the move from two floors to one. But the swivel chairs will allow students to have small-group interaction, even in a large room.

New interactive classroom

new-classroomOne of the most drastic changes in the MacKay renovation will be upstairs in room 213, a classroom with old wooden chairs that are a blast from the past.

The auditorium-style room that’s largely been untouched since the 1920s will be transformed into an interactive learning classroom with movable tables and chairs, eight wall-mounted flat-screen TV monitors, and movable marker board surfaces. Students will be able to write their thoughts on marker boards, then mount the boards back on the walls.

The upgrades are expected to make the 48-seat classroom a much more popular choice among faculty members and students who currently dislike the outdated room, with its poor learning environment and air flow.

Sculpture gets rotated in vestibule

vestibule

The renovation also aims to make MacKay Hall’s entryway a more welcoming gathering space.

The Marriage Ring sculpture that depicts three life-sized children, also known as Wedding Ring or Ring of Life, will be moved to face the south entryway. The 1942 sculpture, which is part of the Christian Petersen Art Collection, will be placed in front of the room’s middle doors, which will no longer be open to foot traffic.

“The idea is that by maneuvering the sculpture to the north side and blocking the door, students won’t be tripping over it, jumping over it, sitting on it,” Bosselman said.

Comfortable seating will be installed in the vestibule and plaques on the wall will be consolidated.

Seeing past the dust and noise

mackay-welcome-centerMacKay Hall is used by eight Iowa State units and departments including apparel, events, and hospitality management; Extension and Outreach to Families; food science and human nutrition; College of Human Sciences student services; teacher education services; human development and family studies; general instruction and information technology services.

The project does not affect any offices, so no faculty or staff members will be displaced.

Bosselman said everyone in the building is excited and looking forward to the changes, despite the noise and mess that construction will bring. The Joan Bice Underwood Tearoom sits directly underneath the auditorium.

“We want to make sure that we’re telling people, ‘Yes, we’re dusty and dirty this summer. But look at what’s coming. This is what your children will be a part of,’” Bosselman said.

The project has the possibility of naming rights for portions such as the auditorium. Interested donors should contact Kelly Hanfelt, the college’s director of development, at 515-294-1849 or khanfelt@iastate.edu.

CONTACTS:

Bob Bosselman, chair, Department of Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management, 515-294-7474, drbob@mail.iastate.edu

Matt Cole, project manager, Brooks Borg Skiles Architecture Engineering, LLP, 515-244-7167, mcole@bbsae.com

Darlene Fratzke, student recruitment coordinator, College of Human Sciences, 515-294-0865, dlfratzk@mail.iastate.edu

Patrick Cioffi, construction manager, Iowa State University facilities planning and management, 515-509-3943,pcioffi@iastate.edu

Mark Grief, project manager, Iowa State University facilities planning and management, 515-294-8955, mgrief@iastate.edu

Lynn Burnett, assistant construction manager, Iowa State University facilities planning and management, 515-291-0366, lburnett@iastate.edu

 Lynn Campbell, communications specialist, College of Human Sciences, 515-294-3689, lynnc@iastate.edu

 
  • Quick Look

    A $3.1 million remodeling of MacKay Hall will begin in May. It includes extensive work to the auditorium, a new student welcome center for the College of Human Sciences, a major upgrade to a second-floor classroom, and a more functional vestibule.


  • “We will be able to make so much difference in the learning environment for students who will be in the MacKay Auditorium.”

    Pamela White