Swallow Hall Reconstruction Update

Swallow Hall construction
Swallow Hall construction
Swallow Hall construction
Jordan Yount
News Source: 
College of Arts & Science
Departments: 
Anthropology
Art History

People are used to seeing construction on the MU campus, from the erection of new student housing to the ever-expanding facilities at Memorial Stadium, but the ongoing construction project on the southeast corner of the Francis Quadrangle merits a second look. That’s because the reconstruction of Swallow Hall is not following the usual script—its interior structure is being built and then the exterior walls will be connected to the interior structure along the way.

When university officials began planning the renovation of the 122-year-old building, they decided to preserve the shell of the building, thereby maintaining the historical texture and details of the building. MU Operations Communications Manager Karlan Seville says the process for the Swallow Hall reconstruction is basically flipped from a typical new construction project.

“Maintaining the exterior walls of a historic building while building a completely new structure within requires structural shoring and detailed coordination of how to remove each piece of existing structure and when and how to connect the new structure to the existing masonry walls,” Seville says.

Seville says the existing masonry walls went through a process called grout injection to repair and strengthen them.

“Grout injection is a low-pressure injection of fine grout into the exterior walls, which then fills voids or cracks within the wall that had developed over the long history of the building,” Seville explains. “This is a challenge that wouldn’t be encountered in a complete rebuild.”

Seville says the reconstruction of Swallow Hall will be completed in time for occupancy in summer 2016. The building is scheduled to be “dried in” by December, meaning the roof, windows, and exterior walls will be in place. At that point, interior work can then be installed.

The renovated building will house the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Art History and Archaeology and will have an additional 8,349 square feet of usable space. The building will be three feet taller than the original, allowing architects to transform the formerly unusable attic into a usable third floor. When completed, Swallow Hall also will have a new 100-seat lecture hall.

Swallow Hall originally was constructed in 1893 and was named for George Clinton Swallow, MU’s first professor of geology, chemistry, and agriculture and the first dean of the College of Agriculture. In 1931, a tornado blew off one of the building’s turrets, damaged the roof, and blew out several windows.  The building underwent exterior repairs in 2000.

The cost of the current reconstruction project is $16.9 million.

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