Oxford enters intensive construction mode this summer

By Cathy Wooten | Emory Report | April 23, 2012

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The final phase of improvements to the exterior of Seney Hall, which began in summer 2011, will be completed. Emory Photo/Video.

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With the close of spring semester, Oxford College will begin what is one of the most intense periods of construction and development since the campus was built in the 1830s.  Over the next 18 months, Oxford will complete five projects—a conversion of the quad to a pedestrian zone and the major renovation or redevelopment of four buildings.

In addition to the pedestrians-only quad, the undertaking includes a new library and academic commons and improvements to historic buildings. "The effect will be enormous," says Stephen Bowen, dean of Oxford College.  "These projects will expand our facilities in critical areas and improve the overall appearance and architectural integrity of the campus."

The buildings are some of Emory's oldest, and their maintenance and improvement represent the University's ongoing commitment to the stewardship of the historic Oxford campus, first envisioned in 1836. The buildings and the approximate cost of the associated projects include:


Oxford Quad

The quad, which dates from 1839, will become a pedestrians-only zone.  Hamill Street will be closed to traffic just inside the Oxford College gates.  The bricking of the historic college paths, partially completed in 2008, will be finalized.

• Start: February 2012

• Expected completion: January 2013


Seney Hall

The final phase of improvements to the exterior of Seney Hall, which began in summer 2011, will be completed. The historic windows will be removed and the frames refurbished and reinstalled.

• Built: 1881

• Expected start of final phase:  May 2012

• Expected completion:  August 2012


Williams Gymnasium (Old Gym)

Upon routine structural inspection last fall, engineers found that the historic suspended wooden running track, one of only a few left in the U.S., had compromised the building's original wooden trusses.  The trusses will be strengthened by removing the roof and working with a crane.  With the completion of the structural work, a new and more historically aesthetic roof will be installed. 

• Built: 1907

• Expected start:  May 2012 

• Expected completion:  August 2012


Language Hall

Language Hall will be gutted and given an interior re-design that includes four modern classrooms, faculty offices, modern HVAC and a more aesthetic entrance.  The exterior will include details that are reminiscent of the original 1874 design.  An addition to the building will make it bring it to ADA standards and allow for needed ancillary space. 

• Built: 1874

• Expected start:  May 2012

• Expected completion:  January 2013 


Oxford College Library and Academic Commons 

The original 1970 building will be gutted and 10,000 square feet added to the footprint.  The interior will be brought up to 21st-century standards from the standpoint of both design and technology.  The exterior will more closely address the Oxford quad, and its design will be more in keeping with the historic buildings adjacent to it, which are the Oxford Chapel, built in 1875, and Phi Gamma Hall, built in 1851. During construction, the library's functions will be decentralized to various locations, including the fellowship hall of nearby Allen Memorial United Methodist Church, but no significant disruption of service is anticipated.

• Expected start: May 2012

• Expected completion: August 2013

A groundbreaking ceremony to commemorate the start of the new library will take place on Saturday, May 12 immediately following Oxford College Commencement.  In addition to Oxford faculty, staff and student, dignitaries from the University, Oxford College alumni and members of the local community will attend.