Phase I of the renovations in Gibble Auditorium were completed during the summer of 2012. Gibble is a part of the Masters Center for Science, Math and Engineering (SMEC), which opened in 2007 after a renovation combined Esbenshade Hall, Musser Hall, and Lyet Wing.
Esbenshade, which initially opened in 1967, houses science, occupational therapy, math and engineering facilities while Musser is mainly home to the chemistry program and Lyet is home to the biology program.
During this overhaul in 2007, Gibble Auditorium, a part of Esbenshade Hall, was to be renovated. However, the College’s funds for the SMEC project were depleted once the majority of the project was planned and completed, and therefore it did not accommodate any of the designed renovations to Gibble at that time.
In November 2011, “the Etownian” reported that Gibble would finally receive the renovations that were planned when the Masters Center was redone several years ago. This opportunity for a new plan came from a grant from the George I. Alden Trust, which originally funded the SMEC project. The trust gave a grant of $175,000, giving the College the chance to finally spruce up Gibble.
Because many events take place in Gibble during the school year, including classes, performances, lectures and films, the plan was laid out in two phases of work during the semester break: Phase I in summer 2012 and Phase II in summer 2013. These renovations are intended to make it easier for the space to act as both an auditorium and a lecture hall, functions that are extremely essential to the use of the space.
Joseph Metro, director of Facilities Management and Construction at the
College, assured, “We completed the Phase I work as planned and the Phase II work will take place next summer with final completion for use at the start of fall semester 2013. Everything essential for classroom use was included in Phase I.”
The first campus-wide event, a movie showing, held in Gibble since the renovation occurred this past weekend.
On Friday, Aug. 31, students were invited by the Office of Student Activities (OSA) to watch a captioned version of Marvel’s “The Avengers.” The chatter from upperclassmen before the film made it apparent that most students didn’t immediately notice that the space had been renovated. In fact, any student who has been in Gibble before the renovations may not automatically take note of a difference when entering through the first floor door. The red seats remain and the majority of the walls are still the same color. The stage and podium haven’t been altered. The carpet has not changed either.
However, if the student looks up, he or she will notice that Gibble has been drastically altered. Phase I included the upper portion of the auditorium. “Essentially, the HVAC [Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning], acoustic clouds, lighting, AV booth and equipment and sprinklers,” Metro said.
Acoustic clouds are hanging objects that can be adjusted to absorb and control sound, hopefully creating a better listening environment for the auditorium. According to Metro, “They match the space reverberation rate and acoustic signature that the space uses.”
The AV booth in the back of Gibble has been completely renovated. It is now larger, replacing several rows of seats, and houses all new audio visual equipment. The entrance at the rear of the auditorium has a small corridor, intended to lessen the light coming from opening the door, which is troublesome to any events going on in the space. This is intended to be a light lock, a small room allowing for a double set of doors, to help minimize light disruptions.
Metro said, “Phase II will include wall acoustic panels, new seats, screens and floor covering.” The wall panels will work much like the acoustic clouds on the ceiling and they will be slanted to curb echoes in the space. While the number of seats will be reduced from 320 to about 300, as reported in the November article, the new seating plan will have larger and more comfortable chairs and will also include railings.
Phase II will be completed next summer for the finished product to be revealed in fall 2013.