The UNH Paul Creative Arts Center (PCAC) closed on Oct. 17 in preparation of renovations, and is now set to hold its opening reception on Feb. 2, 2017.
Last year, the trustees of the University System of New Hampshire were presented with options of multiple buildings to renovate, and the PCAC was selected. The major concern and reason for such renovations was the museum’s lack of accessibility for students and individuals with physical handicaps.
Initially, the chairs of the music, art and theatre departments met with Sharon Ames of Harriman Architects and UNH Facilities Project Manager Andre Cardoso to discuss options for the project. A new stairwell and a LULA elevator will be added to the museum by the time it opens again in February, for a construction cost of $5 million.
“The museum previously was not handicapped-accessible,” Museum Director Kristina L. Durocher said. “There was not an elevator. So they ripped out the staircase and had to reconfigure the stairs to accommodate the inclusion of an elevator.”
Rather than a regular elevator, the Museum of Art will feature its very own LULA brand elevator.
“A normal elevator would require an enclosed shaft, and it would require a different type of footing,” Durocher said. “And so in this case there’s still a glass-enclosed shaft, but it’s not an enclosed car. It’s a platform that descends inside of a protective glass shaft.”
Because the steps in the museum were too steep to meet guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities, they too will be under construction.
“It was very steep and difficult for people with mobility issues to descend,” Durocher said. “So they’ve reconfigured the stairs; and to do that, they had to tear out the ground floor exit doors, and that’ll be rebuilt.”
Some minor construction will also be underway to extend the floor to make a larger landing that allows individuals in wheelchairs to access the elevator.
In addition to the LULA elevator in the museum, another elevator is being added to the PCAC’s Art Wing.
“Originally there were three elevators proposed, and that proposal was sent out for bid, and it exceeded the $5 million construction cost,” Durocher said. Once put in, the elevator in the Art Wing will go all the way to the third floor drawing studies room.
“We hope that the students will come check out the museum and see the great exhibitions that we have opening on Feb. 2,” Durocher said.
The exhibits that will be on display come February are: “Flextime,” a site-specific sculptural clay installation by David Katz, and “Closer Readings: Writers Respond to Art,” in which writers with ties to UNH have been invited to respond to works of art from the museum’s permanent collection.