Ann Beha Associates, Boston, MA
Fisher Dachs Associates, New York, NY
Alumnae Hall is the largest assembly space at Wellesley College, a Seven Sisters liberal arts college west of Boston. The original 1923 beaux arts building by Cram and Ferguson consisted of a 1,300-seat auditorium with a ballroom below, equal in size to the auditorium. In the 1970s, one end of the ballroom was converted into the Ruth Nagel Jones Theater, a small “black box” drama space.
The Barstow Auditorium is currently used for theater performances, student variety shows, and occasional lectures by high-profile alumnae and guests.
For the current renovation, Ann Beha Associates focused on restoring the beauty of the original building while improving its functionality. Fisher Dachs upgraded the stagehouse rigging and lighting and replaced the seating – with the addition of handicapped seating, a control booth, and comfortably dimensioned chairs, the current seat count is 1,000.
Kirkegaard Associates installed a new audio and video system and dramatically improved isolation between the Ballroom and both the Auditorium and Jones Theater. KA also worked with the mechanical engineer on new air conditioning systems for the building, ensuring that background noise levels remained at appropriate levels. Subtle adjustments to the natural acoustics of Barstow Auditorium and the Ballroom help them to be more effective spaces for their wide range of uses.
Alumnae Hall is now restored to its original beauty while providing a greater degree of functionality than it has ever enjoyed.