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Lowell Lecture Hall Closes for Repairs

Building’s fixtures may separate from ceiling

By Samuel Y. Weinstock, Crimson Staff Writer

Lowell Lecture Hall was closed starting Monday as a precautionary measure to evaluate several ornamental fixtures that appear to be separating from the ceiling.

Prior to the hall’s closing, students enrolled in Music 1a, Music 2, Government 20, Molecular and Cellular Biology 80, and Japanese History 146: “Kyoto: The Capital of Medieval Japan” were instructed to attend their course meetings in alternate locations.

During a recent routine inspection, Raymond C. Traietti, assistant director of the Memorial Hall and Lowell Hall Complex, said that contractors found unexpected separations in the plaster of the ornamental fixtures. He added that there may be no risk posed by the separation, but that they are being investigated “just to be safe.”

“We can’t see what’s behind there now,” Traietti said. “I think once we cut in, we’ll see what’s going on. [The apparent separation] may turn out to be nothing.”

Lowell Lecture Hall was closed Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 to build scaffolding and cribbing in preparation for repairs. Classes and rehearsals continued to take place in the hall until Monday.

Engineers and contractors will evaluate the separation of the ornamental fixtures and recommend a plan of action if needed.

Professor Joshua R. Sanes, who teaches MCB 80, said in an e-mail that he was glad that there was only one lecture left when the problem arose.His final lecture was moved to Sanders Theatre and he said that the change in location had no major effect on his course.

Traietti said that the repairs will ideally be completed in mid-January because the floor must be ready to accommodate class meetings and rehearsals by Jan. 23.

According to the Office for the Arts’ website, the building was designed in 1902 by Boston architect Guy Lowell, Class of 1892.

Lowell Lecture Hall was renovated in 1994, after being unoccupied for 20 years and sustaining severe water damage. Traietti said that the engineers and contractors currently evaluating the separation of ornamental fixtures have consulted with the workers that were involved in the previous renovations.

Traietti said that, despite any structural deficiencies, he continues to appreciate the building’s legacy.

“It’s a wonderful building,” Traietti said. “It’s one of my favorite buildings on campus. It just keeps soldiering on. We’re really lucky to have it.”

—Staff writer Samuel Y. Weinstock can be reached at sweinstock@college.harvard.edu.

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