Johnson & Wales University Centennial Hall
Best Project 

Owner Johnson & Wales University
Lead Design Hord Coplan Macht
Civil & Structural Engineer Martin/Martin Consulting Engineers
MEP Engineer Envision Mechanical Engineers
Electrical Engineer Ackerman Engineering Inc.
General Contractor Saunders Construction Inc.

The renovation and restoration of Treat Hall, recently renamed Centennial Hall, at Johnson & Wales University has brought life back to a dormant building that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. The campus landmark, constructed in 1886, has become a new student hub to support the university’s ever-evolving student life.

Marrying its storied history with 21st-century design and functionality, the Centennial Hall project team created 66,000 sq ft of multipurpose student study areas, an events center, classroom, administrative and faculty offices, health and counseling services, a student activity center and more. The facility also includes a new outdoor plaza that links it to three nearby buildings.

Old buildings usually mean old codes, old technology and an older purpose. Johnson & Wales wanted a hub for today’s generation of students, who demand sustainability. But preserving the foundation of an aging building while incorporating modern efficiencies wasn’t an easy task. Upgrades included new LED lighting fixtures, installation of daylight and occupancy sensors and closed-cell insulation of the hall’s stone-and-brick exterior to boost energy efficiency.

Preservation of the remaining historic features meant restoring and reinstalling original light fixtures and refinishing 100-year-old hardwood floors, yet retaining some of their wear and discoloration. The auditorium organ pipes and signage now hang in the lobby as art, while nearly 300 original wood doors that did not meet accessibility requirements were incorporated into the building as wood wainscot panels in the halls and as reception desks. Also, the original red-brick fireplaces were left exposed and dressed up with new millwork mantels.

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