"Come in, come in," beamed Blanche Villar, secretary in the Romance Languages department, as she beckoned visitors into the department's new quarters on the third floor of Peters Hall. Behind her, huge panes of glass stretch to the cathedral ceilings. The entire space is light, airy, and open.
The same can be said for the entire interior of the building. On the first floor, refinished woodwork on the ceilings, floors, and great staircase gleams. Elsewhere, light streams in through arched windows and reflects on the bright white walls. It is serene, beautiful, and inviting.
Peters has just undergone its first major renovation since it was built in 1885. Begun in June 1995, the renovation brought the building into compliance with modern life-safety codes and with the access requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), said facilities planner Leo Evans. It also allowed the college to return Peters Hall to its original function as an academic building.
In recent years, Peters has housed a number of administrative offices, most of which have been relocated to other buildings. In their place, the college's modern language departments and area studies programs have moved into Peters, creating an international center.
The renovation--headed by the Cleveland architecture firm of van Dijk, Pace, Westlake, and Partners--included both exterior and interior work. Exterior work included cleaning and pointing the masonry; replacing the stargazing deck; and installing new, energy-efficient windows. An entrance, accessible to those with disabilities, was added on the southwest side of the building.
Inside, a full sprinkler and fire alarm system was installed. Two stairways were added, as was an elevator on every floor and toilets that meet ADA standards. The stairway to the observatory at the top of the building was modified to provide a safer means of access. Classrooms have been designed to accommodate language teaching.
One of the primary features of the renovation is the Paul and Edith Cooper International Learning Center, a spacious language laboratory that occupies part of the former Bradley Auditorium. Along the perimeter of the laboratory are smaller rooms designed for viewing videos and for computer work. The Arthur Vining Davis Foundation gave Oberlin a $125,000 grant to purchase equipment for the laboratory, including videocassette players and computer-driven multimedia equipment.
The Peters Hall renovation project is expected to come in within the $5.7 million budget approved by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees in May 1995, said Controller Ronald Watts.
--Anne C. Paine
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