Renovation delays impact Corcoran classes

Some classes will start outside of the Flagg Building on 17th Street as renovations continue. Hatchet file photo by Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor
Some classes will start outside of the Flagg Building on 17th Street as renovations continue. Hatchet file photo by Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor

Sculpture classes at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design will begin the school year outside the school’s flagship building after planned summer renovations have taken longer than anticipated, officials said in a release Monday.

For at least the first three weeks of the school year, the classes, originally scheduled to meet in the Flagg Building on 17th Street, will be held in Smith Hall and use the metal fabrication shop in the Science and Engineering Hall, the school’s director Sanjit Sethi said in a release.

The more-than-a-century-old building, which housed both the school and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, began the first phase of an estimated $47.5 multi-year renovation project this summer to repair the building’s outdated infrastructure and modernize its art facilities. Some of the summer projects are not expected to be completed by the start of the academic year, meaning access will initially be restricted to certain parts of the building, according to the release.

“As you can imagine, large-scale renovations rarely go as planned and working on a 120-year-old building that is on the National Register of Historic Places adds complexity to this project,” he said in the release. “With this in mind, there have been unanticipated delays as to what we had hoped to accomplish by the start of the fall 2016 semester.”

Construction crews are working 60 hour-a-week shifts to finish the work as quickly as possible, Sethi said in the release.

Officials said the renovations this summer were focused on bringing the building up to modern safety codes and increase its handicap access. Work took place primarily in the sub-basement, basement and first floor. Here’s what crews have worked on this summer, according to the release:

  • Workers expanded a painting and drawing studio in the basement and constructed two new classrooms that will hold museum studies classes and other seminars. A new wheel studio is also under construction.
  • Staircases to the sub-basement were replaced and widened, and a new elevator was installed.
  • Crews removed building materials, furniture and equipment to install updated plumbing, electrical and mechanical equipment in the sub-basement. This school year, Corcoran students can submit project proposals that use the materials workers cleared out, the release stated.
  • Darkrooms are receiving upgraded sinks, equipment and ventilation to ensure they don’t pose a health risk.
  • Bathrooms on the first floor and in the basement are being expanded.
  • New wheelchairs ramps were installed on the first floor to allow for access throughout the building including the Hammer Auditorium and the Atrium.
  • New sprinkler and fire systems were added to all metal and wood shops.
  • Last month, the historic oak and bronze-covered doors to the building’s 17th street entrance were removed and sent to a specialty metal shop in Alabama to be refurbished, as part of a project funded by American Express.

GW officials committed to renovating the historic Corcoran building when the University absorbed the school in 2014. The work is expected to last until 2018.

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