Marks Hall, an eclectic and much-altered former country house and estate of a loyal alumnus, was selected as the site for Pace University’s new Welcome Center. Its location at the focal point of the upper campus entrance is ideal for visibility and accessibility. Its dignified and inviting atmosphere creates a positive first impression and fosters a sense of ASSOCIATED FIRMPace University; Andron ConstructionCOST PER SQ FT$293.00FEATURED IN2002 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYInterior Renovation pride. The center provides all admissions services to prospective students and their families, computer kiosks for online access and a 30-seat presentation room.
The renovation was approached as an opportunity to restore the building’s character and create an inviting atmosphere. A porch was created to identify the facility, provide ADA-compliant access and replace a cramped vestibule. Structurally, a new steel girder for clear span was needed to support the roof in the presentation room, and ceiling joists were reframed to create an open space for the office and kitchenette. A new HVAC system was installed, and a second means of egress was created for the second floor.
Aesthetically, the architect found the interior to be “a feast of somewhat incongruous details in a variety of architectural styles used in past alterations and additions.” The firm worked closely with Pace to strip away obsolete features and weed out discordant notes. An arts-and-crafts sensibility embraces and unifies such elements as the colonial revival fireplace, creative millwork profiles and rustic exposed stonework.
The Welcome Room is a restoration of the home’s generous dining room with adaptations, such as round-top glazed doors from the entry hall to suit new functional requirements and provide an office, a private meeting room, a refreshment center, and cabinets to display and store literature. A rustic addition, once a country game room and later a computer lab, was recreated as a technologically advanced presentation room. A separate entrance is convenient for group use. A broad bay window lends a special character, while dark and damaged knotty pine walls and ceiling were removed in favor of a freshly painted drywall surface.
Existing lighting systems were replaced with ambient down lights, and the existing crystal chandelier was restored to enhance the lobby. A vibrant color palette of yellows, reds and cherry wood is carried throughout the interior in the furnishings, carpeting, finishes and textiles to create a welcome and comfortable reception area for visitors.