UA begins demolition of east wing of Bryce Hospital
Construction workers demolished what was left of the east wing of historic Bryce Hospital near North Lawn Hall on August 19.
The current iteration of the Performing Arts Academic Center project began after then-athletic director Bill Battle and his wife Mary ran a fundraising campaign, resulting in more than $ 6 million in donations.
“It would have been easier and more economical to take everything apart and start all over again, but the preservation of this facility is truly amazing,” Battle noted when the project was announced in 2017.
The university purchased Bryce Hospital from the Alabama Department of Mental Health in May 2010. According to University grounds, the University purchased the property as it was the “logical choice for expansion” as the last large expanse near the University.
AU spokesperson Shane Dorrill told Tuscaloosa New the wing was “problematic” for the reconstruction.
“After careful consideration with engineers and safety experts, it was determined that the most appropriate course of action would be to selectively remove and rebuild the facade of the east wing,” said Dorrill.
The demolition of the east wing is part of a restoration plan for the historic hospital. Plans have been in motion since the University purchased the property in 2010.
In May 2015, the outermost parts of the east and west wings of the building were demolished. Twelve structures were also demolished, including the dairy barn, greenhouse, engineer’s office, mortuary and pigsty. The back wall of the hospital was also strategically demolished to connect it to a future university building.
Tim Leopard, senior associate vice president for campus development, said the university is currently in the design phase for Bryce Main’s main renovation program.
The package will include stabilization of the west wing and central pavilion, provision of a new structure for the east wing, replacement of the roof and windows, refurbishment of the front porches and other key elements. to make the building structurally sound.
AU President Stuart Bell said he expects the building to become a significant and unique addition to the campus when fully functional.
“The dome on the building is an icon for Tuscaloosa and will certainly become so for the University,” said Bell.
Currently, the hospital’s restoration includes its four-storey main building and four of the original six wings.
“One of the difficult, but also exciting aspects of this project is the existing structure of the building itself,” said Leopard. “The structure is made up of massive masonry walls, both interior and exterior, and three spans of wooden joists. The challenge is to adapt the existing structure over 150 years old for academic use.
According to Summary of the Building Bama project, the ground floor of the building will include a reception center, a reception area, as well as offices and associated administrative premises. There will also be museums dedicated to the history of the university and the history of mental health in Alabama.
Bell said these plans will make the newly renovated Bryce a prime location for first-time visitors.
“It will be important to have a great location for visitors to come and start their visits here at the AU from this location,” said Bell. “And that will be a great anchor for this part of the campus.”
Leopard said the project’s tentative completion date is December 2023.
“People ask, ‘When will the Bryce campus be finished? “It will never be complete,” said college planner Dan Wolfe. noted in a 2015. “At 168 acres, we will be renovating and building on this property for years to come. “
Bell said he agrees with Wolfe, as the foundation of the building itself is difficult to rub shoulders with.
“It’s a big project because it’s a very old building,” Bell said. “We have to get down to the foundations to start renovating it to make sure everything is done in a structurally correct way. “
The budget for this restoration is over $ 80 million.
Academic Center for the Performing Arts
The university plans to add a performing arts center behind and connected to the recently restored Bryce Hospital.
According to Bama building, “The Performing Arts Academic Center (PAAC) will become one of the most iconic and visited buildings on campus. a one-of-a-kind establishment.
The facility will include four performance theaters – a black box theater with flexible seating for 175-275 occupants, a 350-seat proscenium-style theater, a 450-seat specially designed dance hall, and a dance studio theater. with flexible space for rehearsals, recitals and small performances. The building will also house the offices of the teachers of the theater and dance department.
Leopard said the PAAC will be part of a new central hub on campus that will host performances from the theater and dance department.
“The new Performing Arts Academic Center, which will connect to the restored Bryce Main, will be the centerpiece of this dynamic new campus core and ensure that our clients experience the highest level of performance in a setting of unparalleled beauty,” Leopard noted.
Virtual models of construction plans were published in 2018.
The interim completion date for the VIP renovation is fall 2025.
“About ten years ago there wasn’t much around the Bryce campus,” Bell said. “Now we have several buildings there, and this building will be a major anchor for this part of the campus.”
The total of this building addition is $ 60 million, according to Bama building.