For the first time since 1968, the Commonwealth Ballroom in Squires Student Center is under major renovation. The renovations to the 15,000-square-foot space include a new stage, lights and floor. The project began in early October, and is estimated to cost $3.2 million.
“We’re essentially flipping the whole room,” said Eric Margiotta, associate director of Student Engagement and Campus Life. “We’re looking for better overall experience for students and for everyone else that uses the space.”
One of the major changes to the room is making the stage accessible. The entire stage will be completely taken out and rebuilt at a lower height with a ramp installed.
“It is the biggest ballroom on campus, it is used hundreds of times a year by the campus community, and there was no ADA access,” Margiotta said.
Other improvements to the room include updates to the heating and cooling system and the installation of new controllable LED lights, as well as replacing the floor and renovating the walls in the ballroom.
Additionally, a retractable wall will be installed in the ballroom to divide the room if need be, a change from the previous pipe and drape that has been used.
The wall will come down from the ceiling, and will allow for two events to occur simultaneously.
According to VT News, “The biggest driver for this particular project is schedule. The community needs this space back online. Reducing downtime reduces the loss to the campus,” Margiotta said.
“We tried to help where we could, help people find other spaces to have events if they were happening during the time the ballroom would be down,” Margiotta said.
For recurring events that occur in the ballroom, such as career fairs, freshman orientation, Ring Dance and Military Ball, the renovations were planned for this precise time frame to avoid disturbances.
The project is expected to be completed in March 2019.
“We want students to continue making great memories in the space,” Margiotta said. “It has been a part of campus for a long time, (it is) such an essential gathering place and so many memories are made there that we wanted to improve what those memories are like.”