The first major renovation of Hinkle Fieldhouse since the early-1990s is progressing as expected, school officials said.
“Overall, I think it has gone well,” Richard Michal, executive director of facilities, said. “It has been challenging, but we knew it would be getting into it.”
Michal said he views the renovation as two distinct projects: exterior renovation and interior renovation.
Work on the exterior, which has occurred through the summer, is made easily apparent to observers due to scaffolding blanketing the building.
One of the major aspects of the exterior renovation involves Hinkle’s windows.
Michal said the project will replace all the glass and glazing and restore the windows’ original steel frames.
“A lot of the glass is original from 1928,” Michal said. “What we’re hoping to accomplish is to put in a type of glass that won’t require us to have blinds all the time.”
An added complication of the window work lies in the panes, which all need to be custom-cut.
Bruce Arick, Vice President for Finance, said each window has individual panes because there were no standards when Hinkle was built.
The second aspect of the exterior work is the tuckpointing of Hinkle’s bricks and limestone.
This process requires workers to grind away at the old mortar that sits between pieces of brick and limestone so they can spread new mortar.
“There were some of those 103-degree days where (workers) were up on the scaffolding with grinders and, God bless them, they were under the heat,” athletic director Barry Collier said.
Arick and Michal both said the external renovations could not have come at a better time, as some of Hinkle’s exterior had begun to break apart.
In summer 2009, structural issues with the building’s brick façade caused some bricks to fall through the roof of the West Gym. This damage necessitated emergency repairs in fall 2009 and summer 2010.
While the scope of the internal renovations is not set in stone, Collier said he has several plans to improve the athletic and academic experiences of all Butler student-athletes.
The list of potential improvements includes the construction of a student-athlete academic success center, a sports medicine and training room, a new weight room and updated locker rooms.
“We’re talking about the body, mind and spirit of each person being supported in a way that allows them to be positive about their possibilities,” Collier said.
Michal said the infrastructure of Hinkle, which includes telecommunication, power, electricity and water, will also be looked at during the renovation process.
While some plans are still being nailed down, a grant attained by the university in April 2011 keeps the project from changing too much.
The Save America’s Treasures grant, which is administered by the U.S. National Park Service, provides Butler with $700,000 for renovations and comes with strict reporting requirements, Michal said.
Michal said every decision- from paint color to the glass used in the glazing of windows- has to be run by the National Park Service for approval.
The grant will help to offset the cost of almost half of the exterior work, which should cost the university approximately $1.7 million, Arick said.
The amount of money raised by Butler in its ongoing private and soon-to-be-starting public campaign will help determine the final cost of the internal renovations.
“The generosity of our donors allows us to sustain the building and make improvements that otherwise wouldn’t be possible,” Collier said.
Another important factor in the renovations has been the potential for them to hinder Butler’s athletic teams.
Dust, dirt and building materials are visible throughout the fieldhouse, especially in the upper level.
Michal also said that while work on the building’s north, east and south windows is either complete or close to complete, he is concerned about the high windows in the west and the scaffolding occupying some spectator seating.
Volleyball coach Sharon Clark’s team has had to practice in the West Gym until recently. Work is being done on the other side of the gym’s south wall, and drilling can be heard during team workouts.
“It’s been a difficult transition for us this preseason,” Clark said. “Trying to keep (our equipment) and the floor clean has been a big issue.”
Despite this, Clark acknowledged that she felt the renovations were necessary.
“The end result is absolutely better for our current and future student-athletes,” she said.