Cohen Auditorium opens after summer overhaul
Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 10, 2013 02:10
Cohen Auditorium, the largest formal auditorium and lecture hall on campus, re-opened this week after a major renovation project that began this past summer.
The auditorium, located in the Aidekman Arts Center, returned to functionality in time for Parents and Family Weekend on Oct. 5 with upgraded technical and accessibility features, along with structural and mechanical improvments, according to Director of Project Administration Rudi Pizzi.
Renovations include safety upgrades for overhead lighting; access to the stage via a new wheelchair lift; energy-efficient, sustainable lighting and mechanical systems; more comfortable seats; side-walls lined with electrical sockets for students to charge electronic devices and new audiovisual (A/V) equipment, Pizzi said.
“While not visually apparent, Cohen Auditorium [also] has a new roof and mechanical ventilation equipment,” Pizzi added.
In the past, the auditorium has often served to hold large introduction classes for economics and astronomy. Many of the renovations are intended to make Cohen more “classroom-friendly,” Director of Facilities Services Bob Burns said.
“One of the major goals was to make it more versatile in that different types of classes can be conducted there, and to improve the teaching capability of instructors,” Burns said. “The new A/V system is a major technical improvement and will benefit teaching by allowing clearer projection of images, sound transmission and faculty interaction with students.”
The project was difficult to complete within the summer allotted for construction, according to Pizzi.
“With a very tight schedule between May and September, there were many long days and weekends put in by workers throughout the project,” she said.
Pizzi spoke to the challenges of maintaining a tight schedule while making heavy use of “long-lead items,” like seats, lights and mechanical equipment, which take a long time to acquire and implement.
“It was difficult approving shop drawings and negotiating fast-ships on these items,” he said.
Pizzi appreciated the efforts of project leaders in keeping the project on track while dealing with eight separate contractors. He mentioned that architectural firm Leers Weinzaphel Associates and RDK Engineers, a mechanical and electrical engineering group, aided during construction.
According to Pizzi, meetings to plan the renovation, led by Director of University Space Management and Planning Lois Stanley, began in February 2012. The Board of Trustees issued final approval in May 2013.
Prior to being renovated this summer, Cohen Auditorium had not been renovated since 1987. Pizzi said he believes the completed auditorium will serve the Tufts community well.
“Cohen Auditorium will support teaching, events and people much better than before this project,” Pizzi said.