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PBK Memorial Hall, Muscarelle Museum to close as Arts Quarter construction begins

  • New music building
    New music building  A rendering shows the design that has been approved for the new music building on the William & Mary campus to be built between the current Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall and Barksdale Field.  Photo courtesy of Moseley Architects and HGA Architects
  • Arts Quarter plans
    Arts Quarter plans  A drawing shows the placement of the new music building adjacent to Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall, which will be renovated at the same time the new facility is being built. The projects are part of a larger Arts Quarter planned for the future along Jamestown Road.  Photo courtesy of Moseley Architects and HGA Architects
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Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall and the Muscarelle Museum of Art at William & Mary will close in May in preparation for renovation work.

PBK Memorial Hall is slated to close by June 1 for an expected 30-month renovation project that will happen in tandem with the building of a new music building next door to it.

The project is expected to take 30 months to complete and to cost $118 million. When it’s finished, the dance department will join theatre in the newly-renovated PBK Memorial Hall, and music will move into its own new building.

The Muscarelle will close after its current exhibitions end on May 13 and will be vacated this summer, with its art collection and staff relocating to a temporary location that is yet to be determined, according to Muscarelle Director Aaron De Groft. Plans are in the works for a new facility, which will be called The Martha Wren Briggs Center for the Visual Arts, and will be funded by private donations.

Renderings show the exterior designs for the renovated Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall (left) and new music building to be built beside it. (Photo courtesy of Moseley Architects and HGA Architects)Those traveling to and around campus are reminded that pedestrians and drivers should be aware of changing traffic patterns and construction traffic, according to Van Dobson, associate vice president for facilities management. Specific details on parking changes haven’t been announced yet, but Director of Parking & Transportation Services Bill Horacio advises to be on the lookout for notifications.

Andrews Hall will remain open during the adjacent construction.

Theatre will be relocating to various locations around campus and is planning for a three-year displacement from PBK Hall, according to Christopher Owens, chair of theatre, speech and dance. Music and dance will stay in their current spaces in Ewell and Adair halls, respectively, during construction.

Theatre and dance performances will take place at the Kimball Theatre, while music performances will be held at various venues still to be determined.

Theatre faculty will move mostly to Morton Hall, with a few moving to offices in the Kimball along with theatre’s box office operation. Theatre’s costume shop and scene shop will move to the Dillard Complex, with costuming in the Patrick Galt House and Gabriel Galt House, and a temporary structure built for the scene shop.

Theatre classes will be held at various locations depending upon the equipment needed. Those spaces include available classrooms on campus, the former Student Health Center building, Campus Center, Kimball Theatre and the Dillard Complex.

Extra time will be built into schedules and transportation may be provided for those traveling from campus to the Dillard Complex, according to Owens. Details are still being worked out.

Students and faculty will be working between campus, the Kimball Theatre and the Dillard Complex when preparing for and staging theatre performances, Owens said. Costumes and sets will be constructed at Dillard and broken down to be moved to the Kimball and back.

“One of the good things about the Kimball is it’s a pretty audience-friendly location,” Owens said.” And we’re hoping that some of Colonial Williamsburg’s attendants will become aware of the possibility of our shows, that are now closer to them than they would have been at PBK.”

Concerns such as limited space in the wings and limited dressing room areas at the Kimball will have to be taken into consideration.

“We’re trying to pick shows that we think will work in there, that don’t need as much sophisticated theatrical machinery as we have at PBK,” Owens said, adding that learning about touring theatre is valuable experience for students because of the large amount of theatre work available in it.

A rendering shows the design for the renovated Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall that will house the Department of Theatre, Speech and Dance. (Photo courtesy of Moseley Architects and HGA Architects)Theatre is just the latest department on campus to trade short-term pain for long-term gain. Construction projects have meant relocation for others in the past as long-range planning growth comes to fruition.

During the 2018-19 academic year, the Alumni House will be closed for renovation and expansion, and construction of new facilities, the McLeod Tyler Wellness Center and the W&M Real Estate Foundation’s Shenkman Jewish Center, will be completed.  Construction on the university’s new West Utility Plant will begin this spring as well, with completion set for 2019.

Eric Bradley, chair of the biology department, serves as emergency and planning coordinator for Arts & Sciences. He has worked on the planning of numerous major construction projects, and has been involved with the Arts Quarter since the beginning.

“The worrisome part is when a department has to separate and go to different locations and keep working when they were used to all being together or down the hall — that’s an adjustment,” Bradley said. “It’s difficult. But several departments that have been distributed are in fact managing.

“The biology department is an example of that. We were distributed in more than one place for several years, and we’re now pretty much back together.”

Contingency plans are in place for various details of theatre’s temporary situation that may need to be augmented, he added.

“From my perspective, we have already planned for all the things that they’re now asking us if we’ve thought about,” Bradley said. “And we’re preparing for eventualities if something doesn’t work the way we expect.”

In the end, two new state-of-the-art buildings will be ready for teaching and performances.

“Out of it will come very wonderful facilities,” Bradley said. “I’d like to believe that my colleagues are all looking at it in a positive way and saying that when it’s over, things will be so much better and that it’s worth enduring this strain.”