Students, faculty celebrate Gwynn Hall renovations at grand opening ceremony

Sunday, April 27, 2014 | 6:55 p.m. CDT; updated 2:09 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 28, 2014
From left, MU Deputy Chancellor Mike Middleton, College of Human Environmental Sciences Dean Stephen Jorgensen and Columbia Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Suzanne Rothwell cut a ceremonial ribbon at the newly renovated Gwynn Hall on Sunday at MU. Benefactors and educators gathered to celebrate the building's official reopening.

COLUMBIA — The MU College of Human Environmental Sciences is back in its first home: Gwynn Hall. 

Dean Stephen R. Jorgensen told a crowd of about 50 people at a reopening celebration on Sunday that the hall he calls "this grand old lady" is now brand new and operational after more than a year of renovations.

The grand old lady, built in 1920, had serious structural problems and a foundation in need of repairs, Jorgensen said.

There were electrical circuit problems and leaks on the roof. Students said the basement used to be moldy and the building sometimes scary. But that was the old Gwynn Hall.

Sunday's reopening ceremony was only symbolic, as professors and students have been back at the building since January. The 15-month renovation project started in October 2012 and was completed in December 2013.

Gwynn Hall adjoins Stanley Hall, which held an open house this weekend on the Immersive Visualization Lab to showcase its virtual and 3-D technology.

Sunday was the day all the faculty had been waiting for to celebrate their improved facilities, research laboratory supervisor Tina Roberts said. During the event, visitors were allowed to explore one of the renovated laboratories, which is used for research on nutrition, human tissues and more.

Although the stone exterior of the building was preserved, the rehab project included a full renovation of the basement and new accommodations for all three floors.

Jorgensen said the renovation project for Gwynn Hall included:

  • New foundations of the building
  • Renovation of the Gwynn lounge
  • Accommodations of faculty and staff offices
  • Student advisory offices
  • Two new classrooms
  • A metabolic kitchen, part of the MU Nutritional Center for Health

Jorgensen said the kitchen is one of the most innovative services the College of Human Environmental Sciences now provides. Researchers are already working on nutrition programs, monitoring the progress subjects’ nutrition by preparing precisely calculated meals in the kitchen and running an analysis of their reactions to those meals, Jorgensen said.

"We can be proud of our building now," said Laura McAndrews, a graduate student who also teaches in the College of Human Environmental Sciences.

McAndrews also said the three classrooms, located on the second floor, including two new ones, are now more convenient. Classroom 220, where she teaches, is fullyequipped with new technology and a large white screen.

“It’s better than the projector we used to have,” McAndrews said.

On the first floor, Marcia Healy was proud to present the renovated Gwynn lounge she had redesigned. A 1968 graduate of the College of Human Environmental Sciences, Healy financed the renovation of the lounge, trying to keep the same atmosphere she used to know. She kept the old fireplace intact but changed the furniture, the ceilings and the windows.

On a wall in the lounge, a portrait hangs of the building's original grand old lady, benefactor and namesake, Marie Louise Gwynn. After the renovations, her portrait is now surrounded by three abstract paintings that Healy and MU students made as a final touch.

Supervising editor is Zachary Matson.

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