Proposed concert hall renovations within the Viar-Christ Fine Arts Center in Brinkley Hall (formerly Winston Hall)
Just after Commencement 2016, work began on the renovation of Winston Hall (photo 1), which will be renamed Brinkley Hall upon completion. Brinkley Hall will house the Joe Viar and Bonnie Christ Center for the Arts.
This $4.7 million project will be the first time that the College has taken advantage of the tax credits available for the restoration of historic buildings. (These tax credits can be claimed and then sold by non-profit organizations.) Consequently, the exterior of the building will not be altered.
The interior is another matter. The rear (1962) section of the building has been completely gutted on all three floors (photo 2, 3). On the ground floor, the center (1936) and front (1880) sections have also been gutted (photos 4, 5). An elevator shaft, rising from the ground to the third floor, has been built (photo 6).
The main room, which was the entire Union Seminary library when built in 1880 and the Hampden-Sydney library from the late 19th C. until a wing was added in 1936, will be largely untouched in appearance. This gracious room with its tall ceiling, arched windows, and elegant molding will be used as a performance space. All mechanical systems in the room will be replaced and the acoustics upgraded (photo 7).
The 1936 addition, which along with the original portion served as the dining hall - the Commons - from 1962 until 1991, provides the space for one of the most interesting additions to the structure. A floating room, to be the MAC laboratory (to teach graphic design and digital photography), will bisect the space horizontally (photo 8). Its walls will be independent of the existing walls of the building and from the outside will not detract from the triple windows in the east and west walls (photo 9).
The portions that have been gutted will be unrecognizable to those familiar with the building. The entire ground floor will house music. On the second floor, the rear section and two large rooms in the 1936 section will house the visual arts - drawing and painting. The third floor, including the floating room, will house photography.
Construction will be completed in March 2017.