When the Weitz Center for Creativity opened in fall 2011, Arena Theater closed permanently, becoming a storage space for miscellaneous furniture and unused items.
After sitting empty for five years, the college has started clearing out the building and doing electrical work in preparation for the new science complex construction, which is slated to begin next fall, according to Steve Spehn, Director of Facilities.
Last week, the Board of Trustees approved the design plans for the science complex construction and for demolition of Mudd Hall.
The college can now pay for construction documents, which will include the final price tag of the science complex project, according to Gretchen Hofmeister, Assistant Dean and Chemistry Professor.
The Board is slated to approve the construction documents in the late winter or early spring. Their approval will be the final go ahead for the project, and at that point, construction will begin.
The current renovations in Arena Theater are actually the first step in the plans for the science complex, explained Hofmeister.
Pending Board approval in the spring, the geology department classrooms and the physics shop will vacate Mudd and move into the basement of Arena Theater, where they will stay for two years, while the new science complex is built.
The chemistry faculty and geology faculty will move offices from Mudd Hall to the Music Hall, once the music department transplants to the new addition to the Weitz, which is scheduled to happen over the summer. At this time, the chemistry labs will move to the first floor of Hulings and the basement of Olin.
“The spaces in Arena Theater and the Music Hall will be very useful,” Hofmesiter said. “We’ll have two years in temporary spaces, and I want to emphasize that they will be fully functional.”
Spehn also explained that current renovations to Arena Theater will ensure that the space can serve the geology department well for the next two years.
Once physics, chemistry and geology relocate, Mudd Hall will be vacated, and science complex construction will begin.
The proposed plan is to demolish Mudd Hall because the college wants to integrate all of the science departments and because modification of Mudd Hall would be more expensive than demolition and construction of a new building, according to Hofmeister.
Currently, the college has raised a little over $30 million for the science complex construction, according to President Steve Poskanzer. The college hopes to raise an additional $30 million and borrow $40 million, for a final price tag of approximately $100 million.
The new science complex will likely be completed in 2020, at which point geology and chemistry will move into their new homes and Arena Theater will be demolished.