by Kathleen Hedges
Right: Conceptual drawing of the future Cramer Hall. This drawing was made before a revision that added another wing to the north side.
SOCORRO, N.M., June 13, 2005– Cramer Hall, the oldest classroom building on the New Mexico Tech campus, is undergoing a renovation that will nearly quadruple its size, while keeping the character and flavor of its traditional Mission style.
The new Cramer Hall will have two wings almost identical in exterior appearance to the original building and set at right angles to it, one on the north side and one on the south. It will also have additional space in the back, where a basement is currently being constructed.
[The accompanying architect’s conception of the building shows only the original building (center right) and the addition on the south (lower left). The drawing was made earlier in the planning process, before the north wing was added.]
In recent weeks, wings added to Cramer Hall in the 1970s have been removed, leaving a core building that looks surprisingly small. This core, the original building constructed in 1927, is a mere 8,850 square feet. According to Mike Hill, the architect for the new building, who works for the company Van Gilbert Architects PC, the renovated Cramer Hall will have a total of 34,500 square feet.
“Originally, the plan was to simply renovate the inside of the existing building, including the wings built in the 1970s” Hill says. “However, as planning continued, it became evident that Tech would get more high-quality space by removing those sections rather than by re-doing them. We could not only get more classroom space but also create a building more in keeping with the traditional Mission Style architecture.”
Hill also faced the challenge of adapting Cramer Hall to departments needing high-tech equipment and access. In particular, the Department of Computer Science and the Distance Education Program are slated to move in.
“Computer Science will have their own server rooms,” Hill said, “with lots of internet and electronic connections. It will have a number of classrooms and meeting areas, as well as office space. Distance Ed will have two studio spaces in which they can videotape classes.”
The interior of Cramer will look much like the renovated interior of Weir Hall, with attractive wood doors and architectural details. Weir’s warm and appealing appearance has been well-received by students, faculty, and visitors to campus.
“The original plan,” says Hill, “was to remodel both buildings simultaneously.” That plan meant that many offices and classrooms would have to be displaced at the same time. Instead, the decision was made to renovate one building at a time.
"The renovation of Cramer Hall is a tremendous opportunity for our traditional academic programs to be housed in a facility that offers such quality classroom space," said Dr. Peter F. Gerity, Vice President for Academic Affairs.
"We're also very excited about the high-quality course production and delivery facilities provided for Distance Education students, which has become a critical element of New Mexico Tech's academic programs," Gerity said.
In noting the similarities between the recently renovated Weir Hall and plans for Cramer Hall, Gerity said the architectural design and interior style will continue a legacy of "high quality space and traditional appearance which adds so much to the quality of our campus."
The estimated completion date for Cramer Hall is May 2006. In addition to Computer Science and Distance Education, the Psychology Department is slated to move into the new hall.