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Xavier Magazine | May 25, 2017

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Behind the Alter Hall Renovation

Behind the Alter Hall Renovation
By Michael Shaw

Dedicated in December 1960, Alter Hall was Xavier’s class of the classroom.

It was called “the million dollar building” because it featured air-conditioning, a 300-seat lecture hall and 33 classrooms.


Now, rising from the original concrete bones, a new Alter Hall is emerging, even more innovative than the original. One of its key components is its environmental friendliness. One of the principal architects of its transformation, Nestor Melnyk of MSA Architects, presents a quick tour:

AlterHall2• “Reflective roof materials and a high-performance wall system insulates the building.
Overall, it will consume just half the energy of the average building on campus.”

• “An energy recovery ventilator draws outdoor air into the building to maintain air quality. Carbon dioxide sensors calculate the number of occupants in various rooms within the building and adjust environmental controls accordingly. Plus many windows can actually be opened.”

• “Water from roof drains flows down through several tiers of rain gardens including a bog garden with its own native ecosystem that will be maintained as a biology student project. Using all native plantings means no dedicated irrigation will be installed, just the natural flow of water from the drainage system.”

• “Light sensors measure the amount of daylight coming in the windows and adjust the interior lights accordingly.”

alter3• “The way buildings meet the sky on campus is rarely a straight horizontal line. Alter was transformed so that there’s a lot of articulation at the roofline—ups and downs and cutouts. Glass is used to create an expansive sense of space while stone creates the accents. We’re picking up on the visual grammar of the campus, but using a more sophisticated vocabulary.”

• “Subspaces within the landscaping around the building create natural environments for an outdoor class.”

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