Continuing a tradition of renovating and upgrading historically significant facilities that are still functional, Texas A&M University is launching major upgrades for an 81-year-old classroom building, Scoates Hall, and the equally old Jack K. Williams Building, the stately structure that stands at the end of the formal entrance to the institution.
The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents approved the university’s proposals for the two projects Thursday (Jan. 31) and authorized funding to underwrite planning and construction costs.
Authorization of the two projects continues the longstanding endeavor on the campus of the state’s first public institution of higher learning to combine restoration of existing facilities when feasible with the addition of new facilities as needed. University officials say both approaches are essential to support the institution’s growing student body — now totaling 50,000 and ranking among the largest in the nation — and expanding research and service initiatives in which the institution also is a national leader. Major new facilities have been opened in recent years in support of the university’s agriculture, engineering, science, business and liberal arts programs, and another is under construction for the College of Education and Human Development.
When work is completed at the Williams Building, with completion expected by October of 2014, the office of the president will be relocated there, along with the offices of four vice presidents and several associated offices. The offices for the vice president for research and graduate studies are currently located there.
The four-story building, which includes more than 68,000 square feet of floor space, bears the name of the late Jack K. Williams, who served as president of the university from 1970 until 1977 and continued to be officed in that building while serving as Texas A&M System chancellor until 1979. The office of the president had been located in that building until 1977. President R. Bowen Loftin and his staff are currently housed in Rudder Tower near the center of the campus.
An allocation of $11.37 million was authorized by the regents for the Williams Building work.
Scoates Hall, where thousands of Aggies attended classes over the past eight decades, will be renovated and upgraded with funding totaling almost $10.6 million. Work on the three-story building, which has approximately 67,613 square feet of floor space, is expected to be completed by November of 2014. In addition to continuing to provide classrooms for a variety of academic departments, the building is scheduled to house the Center for Heritage Conservation, Center for Health Systems and Design, the Hazards Reduction and Recovery Center, the Center for Housing and Urban Development and the Institute for Applied Creativity — all part of the College of Architecture.
The building bears the name of Daniel Scoates, who was a member of the agricultural engineering faculty and served as department head in the 1920-30 era.
The regents also authorized funding of $15.45 million for the third phase of a 12-year plan to renovate the 12 dormitories where members of the Corps of Cadets are housed. In addition to essentially rebuilding one of the dorms to accommodate 220 cadets, the newest phase of the project will include construction of an adjacent leadership learning center, which will replace a small outdated lounge. The 12 dorms in the Corps of Cadets area date back to the 1930s. The first dorm renovation in the Corps area was completed last year and also included a leadership learning center, and another dorm renovation is currently under way.
The university completed major renovations last year on the 62-year-old Memorial Student Center (MSC) and the 98-year-old YMCA Building, the landmark facility that served for decades as the center of student life before the opening of the MSC. Earlier, Military Walk, the quarter-mile central-campus area where in earlier day’s members of the Corps of Cadets held daily formations, was restored with major enhancements made possible by a $4 million gift from Dan Hughes of Beeville, a 1951 Texas A&M graduate and former cadet.