One of the most architecturally significant and underused buildings on campus is about to get a whole lot busier. The Vanderbilt Board of Trust’s Executive Committee has voted to begin significant renovations to Alumni Hall in order to create flexible spaces to support a wide range of activities.
Increased student engagement and leadership on campus have created a need for additional meeting and gathering space. University officials say the number of student-led organizations has pushed available meeting space at nearby Rand Hall and Sarratt Student Center beyond capacity.
Construction is set to begin immediately after Commencement and conclude in July 2013. Expanded terraces, a new classroom, music lounge, exercise room, writing center, faculty office suite and café are planned for the Collegiate Gothic-style building originally completed in 1925.
Renovation funding will be provided by a combination of philanthropy and internal sources. Also, thanks to a generous gift from the Joe C. Davis Foundation, the Memorial Room on the second floor will be named in honor of 1941 alumnus Joe C. Davis Jr. A Vanderbilt tennis legend, Davis won SEC titles in 1939, 1940 and 1941. He was a longtime benefactor of the university and served on the Vanderbilt Board of Trust.
Having a renewed Alumni Hall also will benefit students living in the newest College Halls complex when it opens to approximately 660 upperclassmen in fall 2014 on the current site of Kissam Quadrangle. In May 2012 the six existing Kissam Quadrangle buildings will be demolished to make way for the two new residential colleges and a shared facility providing gathering space, dining, a classroom, offices and meeting rooms. (See Collective Memory article in this issue.)
Alumni Hall functioned as the university’s original student union for nearly 50 years. It was dedicated to the 44 Vanderbilt alumni, former students and faculty who died in World War I. Their names are carved in limestone above the Memorial Room’s fireplace mantels. As the premier campus social center, generations of students held tea dances in the Memorial Room, played pool in the basement, and conducted club meetings in the parlors. When Sarratt Student Center opened in 1974, Alumni Hall became home to a variety of administrative offices. The renovation project will be the first for the 87-year-old Vanderbilt landmark.