Cramer Hall: Better Living Through Cloning, July 7, 2006

by Kathy Hedges

[Note: Departments have moved into Cramer Hall and classes will be held there beginning with the Fall 2006 semester.]

SOCORRO, N.M., July 7, 2006 -- Tech alumni who remember Cramer Hall as a classic Mission-style building flanked by two incongruous 70s-style wings will be surprised at the new appearance of the building.

To the north and south of the classic part of Cramer Hall stand two copies, each set at right angles to the original building. If you face Cramer from the north, east, or south, you can enter through an identical arched doorway, into a cool hall trimmed in dark wood and illuminated by 30s-style lighting fixtures.

Cramer Hall has been cloned.

According to Mike Hill, the architect for the new building, who works for the company Van Gilbert Architects PC, “Originally, the plan was to simply renovate the inside of the existing building, including the wings built in the 1970s. However, as planning continued, it became evident that Tech would get more high-quality space by removing the additions rather than by re-doing them.”

Hill devised an elegant solution to the problem. He made copies of the original building and placed them on the north and south sides, at right angles to the original. The resulting Cramer is a much larger, revitalized Mission-styled building, totally in keeping with the original and also with the rest of the historic quadrangle at Tech.

There is also an added section in the back of Cramer that reproduces the building’s distinctive roofline and large, bright windows with arched tops. In all, the new wings bring the square footage of the original building (a mere 8,850 sq. ft.) up to a spacious 34,500 sq. ft.

But it’s on the inside that Cramer Hall really shines.

“The contractor, Bradbury Stamm, was really good about working with us,” said Glenda Chavez, project manager for Tech’s Facilities Management. “We had lots of communication with the departments that are going to be in the building about what they wanted and how it should be designed.”

The building was designed with the departments of Computer Science and Psychology, and the Distance Education Program in mind.

“The Computer Science Department has their own server rooms,” Hill said, “with lots of Internet and electronic connections. It has a number of classrooms and meeting areas, as well as office space. Distance Ed has two studio spaces in which they can videotape and transmit classes.”

According to Dr. Iver Davidson, director of Distance Education, “The contractor was good in allowing us to transform a large storage room across the hallway from the new EODI offices into another office, this one for MST Coordinator George Becker, thereby helping us compensate for growth that has occurred in EODI since the original building plans were drawn up.”

Davidson added, “We appreciate very much our beautiful new facilities, which allow EODI staff to work closely together. We can also expand delivery of distance courses with use of a seminar room (shared with the Psychology Department) directly across from the EODI offices.”

The interior of Cramer looks much like the renovated interior of Weir Hall, with attractive wood doors and architectural details. Weir’s warm and appealing appearance has been well-received by students, faculty, and visitors to campus. There’s a reason Weir and Cramer look alike: “The original plan,” says Hill, “was to remodel both buildings simultaneously.” That plan meant that many offices and classrooms would have to be displaced at the same time. Instead, the decision was made to renovate one building at a time.

“The renovation of Cramer Hall is a tremendous opportunity for our traditional academic programs to be housed in a facility that offers such quality classroom space,” said Dr. Peter F. Gerity, Vice President for Academic Affairs.

“We're also very excited about the high-quality course production and delivery facilities provided for Distance Education students, which has become a critical element of New Mexico Tech's academic programs,” Gerity said.

In noting the similarities between Weir and Cramer Halls, Gerity said the architectural design and interior style will continue a legacy of “high-quality space and traditional appearance, which adds so much to the quality of our campus.”