Construction progress in music building and Dutton Hall

By Gregory A. White
Ranger Reporter

In remodeled buildings, music students in 2013 and teacher-preparation students in 2014 will be able to attend classes as a result of a $68.3 million bond issue passed by Amarillo voters in November 2007 that was driven largely by growing health care programs at AC.
Now displaced to Dutton Hall, music students must practice in rooms where others outside can hear their every sound, said Meghan Henry, a music and vocal performance major.
Henry said it’s a problem because there are only three practice rooms.
“And they’re not sound-proof, so everybody gets to hear you practice,” she said.
Dr. Jim Rauscher, chairman of the music department, said the fine arts complex, where music is one of three buildings, was constructed in 1969 or 1970.
Rauscher said the music building has been in need of repair.
“There have always been some issues with it,” he said. “And those issues have intensified over the years.”
New practice rooms also were needed, Rauscher said.
“I can hear people practicing on the end of the second floor over there (from the first floor). There’s no sound proofing in this room (his office) whatsoever,” he said.
The Wenger Corp. is designing 15 new practice rooms for the remodeled music building, Rauscher said.
“They’ve gutted that entire area, and they’re putting in what are called sound isolation rooms. They’re just amazing,” he said.
“You have these little cubicles, and from one to the next when you’re in one, you don’t hear anything else but yourself.”
The self-contained units are built on-site to the specifications of whatever size you need, Rauscher said.
The band hall also is part of the building’s rebirth. The old one had an unusual setup, Rauscher said.
He said one of the hall’s major renovations will raise its floor by four feet.
A higher floor, however, causes a problem: a lower ceiling.
Rauscher said you want as high a ceiling as possible for a band hall.
The Wenger Corp. also is designing the hall’s acoustics, he said.
“That’s all they do is acoustic things,” Rauscher said.
Wenger has been part of the remodel from the start, he said.
“They’re going to make sure that things are placed on the wall and in the ceiling and stuff to reflect sound and to make the room sound as good as it can,” Rauscher said.
Completion on the music building is nearing 70 percent for the three-story structure’s first two floors, said Bruce Cotgreave, physical plant director.
Cotgreave said work on the music venue should end in summer 2013.
“The contract is supposed to be finished this summer — probably somewhere around June,” he said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s not finished sooner, though.”
When displaced music students and faculty in Dutton Hall return to their new home, Dutton will undergo remodeling.
“We’ll make a switch with getting those folks back over, and then we’ll, hopefully immediately, start renovation of Dutton,” Cotgreave said.
The new Dutton Hall, once the biology building and built in 1964, will house classrooms.
“What we’re going to do there is probably renovate that for general purpose classrooms,” said AC President Paul Matney. “I think social sciences will move into that facility, and our teacher preparation program.”
“It’ll be a general retrofit, a general remodel, much like what Byrd and Parcells went through,” he said.
Matney said he estimates work on Dutton Hall to end in summer 2014.
Dutton probably will be the last element of the $68.3 million bond issue passed in November 2007, Matney said. He said 64 percent of voters agreed to fund construction by increasing their property taxes.
“And it will be done when we’ve finished everything else so that we don’t need swing space — we don’t need a place to put people who are being displaced while their facility is being renovated,” Matney said.
Bond issue construction also has built or renovated health care program-related facilities.
One of those is the science laboratory building on the Washington Street Campus, which cost close to $10 million, Matney said.
Another is Jones Hall on the West Campus, located on West 9th Avenue north of the Veterans Administration hospital, he said.
Matney said growing dental, nursing and allied health programs led to the need for the bond issue, which also funded the music, Dutton and other renovations.
“The dental hygiene clinic was obsolete, and our accreditation organization said you guys have to do something about this,” Matney said.
“The other classroom facilities were simply too small, we didn’t have enough of them. We had a growing nursing student body,” he said.
“It was driven largely by health care. But we must not forget that many other kinds of students and faculty were helped as well.”

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