CoSci occupies historic Francis Hall after $10 million renovation

See links to articles about Francis Hall’s renovation, donors 

The $10 million transformation of historic Francis Hall, the new headquarters for Texas A&M’s Department of Construction Science, into a state-of-the-art academic facility will be celebrated with a dedication set for 12:30 p.m. April 9 at the College Station Hilton (to accommodate anticipated crowds), followed by an open house at Francis Hall from 2 – 4 p.m.

The successful campaign to raise funds for the Francis Hall’s renovation reflects a true investment partnership for the future of the construction industry between the university, the private sector and former students,” said Joe Horlen, head of the Department of Construction Science.

“The close ties we have with the industry, vital to our success in every way, make it possible for us to graduate students who are consistently in high demand,” said Horlen. “This new, state-of-the-art education and research facility will give us much needed room to grow and prepare the next generation of highly trained and uniquely able construction professionals.”

At the renovation project’s outset, designers with BRW Architects and general contractor Satterfield & Pontikes Construction Inc. were faced with the challenge of renovating and upgrading a 100-year-old building, bringing it into compliance with modern building codes and standards and equipping it with cutting-edge components — all with an eye to creating a place to prepare construction science students for leadership positions in the construction industry.

The renovated building, located in the heart of the Texas A&M campus adjacent to Evans Library, has many special features, including specialty labs for estimating and surveying, building information modeling facilities, a videoconferencing bid room and an exhibit hall.

Notable features in Francis Hall, the only building in Texas solely dedicated to construction education, include:

  • State-of-the-art classrooms and lab spaces;
  • Student lounge and collaboration areas, including spaces for academic competition teams;
  • Exposed mechanical, electrical and structural systems that serve as a learning laboratory, and
  • The capacity to increase the program’s enrollment to approximately 1,000 students

To prepare the building for all these new features, Satterfield & Pontikes oversaw the demolition of the building’s interior, which was then stripped to its concrete frame and floors to pave the way for improvements that included:

  • Replacement of mechanical, engineering and plumbing systems;
  • Installation of a new roof, windows and elevator;
  • New interior partitions, finishes, and ceilings;
  • Waterproofing;
  • Fire code upgrades;
  • Abatement of hazardous materials, including plaster, adhesives and asbestos;
  • Demolition and upgrade of original concrete auditorium seating;
  • Fire and life safety code upgrades, and
  • Interior structural renovations.

The project was funded through a combination of public and private funding.

Texas A&M provided $4.5 million and the Department of Construction Science raised the remaining $5.5 million from industry partners and individual donors, many of whom are former students.

Satterfield & Pontikes president and chief executive officer George A. Pontikes Jr., one of the project’s initial contributors, helped enlist other companies to participate in the department’s fundraising effort. The project’s many contributors are recognized in plaques and photographs throughout the building.

The building, which originally housed the university’s School of Veterinary Medicine, was designed by Rolland Adelsperger, Texas A&M college architect and professor of architecture and architectural engineering. It was constructed in 1913.

 

Francis Hall was designed by Rolland Adelsperger, college architect and professor of architecture and architectural engineering, in a highly distinctive Romanesque style for the School of Veterinary Medicine. But the proposed design exceeded the budget, so the architectural firm of Endress and Watkin reduced the size and changed the exterior design to match other buildings on campus.

Originally completed in 1918, the structure remains a classically proportioned three-story reinforced concrete building with brick and cast stone exterior. The façade has brick pilasters with Doric and Ionic capitals and projecting faux balconies. The third floor is marked by cast stone quoins and the entire building is capped by a brick parapet wall.

Francis Hall is named after Mark Francis, first dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at what was then the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, and is today Texas A&M University.

posted March 26, 2015