Wheeler Hall set to reopen after year of renovations

Lianne Frick/Staff

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Wheeler Hall, which has been closed since May 2016 to undergo a number of infrastructure renovations, will reopen for the upcoming fall semester.

Designed by the campus’s first architect, John Galen Howard, Wheeler Hall, which is made up of about 137,000 square feet, is home to one of the largest lecture halls on campus and approximately 10 percent of the campus’s general assignment classrooms.

The restorations under the Wheeler Hall Renewal Project include new mechanical and electrical systems, improved telecommunications infrastructure and the replacement of elevators, roofing and waterproofing systems. The project, funded through the Capital Renewal Program, aimed to earn a minimum of a Silver certification within the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system. Campus spokesperson Roqua Montez said in an email that campus real estate representatives have been meeting monthly with academic departmental staff to plan a move back in.

We are excited to be reopening Wheeler Hall for the fall semester after a year of renovations to improve obsolete building infrastructure,” Montez said in an email. “We’ve collaborated with the faculty, administrative staff, and building managers to schedule both the move out and in dates and to minimize the out-of-office time as much as possible. The move in process has already started and will be complete by August 16.”

The English department announced on its website it is in the process of moving back into Wheeler Hall after being relocated to the Hearst Field Annex.

Professor Mitchell Breitwieser, the summer chair of the campus English department, said in an email English department staff will be “working from home or at other locations on campus” until they move back in to Wheeler Hall on August 7.

He added that English department faculty and graduate students will use Hearst Field Annex Building C for office hours, meetings and class preparation until moving back into Wheeler Hall on August 14.

I think the improvements to the building will make it more comfortable and convenient,” Breitwieser said in an email. “Since we’re moving back into the offices we occupied before the building was closed, things should be mostly the same. The only drawback is the need to get our books back on the shelves and arrange the furniture in our offices.”

Disabled Students’ Program director Karen Nielson also noted that DSP’s Alternative Formats team, which was also temporarily located in Hearst Annex, will be moving back to Wheeler Hall while no classes are happening so the move has “no impact on our students.”

Not all departments that were displaced by the renovations intend on relocating back to Wheeler Hall.

Richard Freishtat, the director for the Center for Teaching and Learning, said the CTL will be staying in its current location in Hearst Gymnasium.

“We will be staying in our current location in Hearst Gymnasium, and our old office … will be converted back into a General Assignment Classroom,” Freishtat said in an email. “This ends up being a good win-win for everyone.”

Bobby Lee is an assistant news editor. Contact Bobby Lee at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @bobbylee_dc.