UF breaks ground on $30M renovation of historic Norman Hall

The long-awaited restoration of historic Norman Hall at the University of Florida has begun.

Originally built in 1934 Norman Hall was designed to house the college’s new P.K. Yonge Laboratory School. The college shared the school building with its K-12 lab school until 1958, when P.K. Yonge moved a few blocks south to its current campus.

Much of the restored building will still be easily recognizable, according to Tom Dana, associate dean of the College of Education who oversees the building rehab project from the college’s side.

“Norman Hall was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, so any repairs or construction on this historic property had to be approved so any harm to iconic building features can be avoided or minimized,” Dana said. “We’ve gone to great pains to make sure the décor and furnishings maintain much of the building’s character from when it was built in 1934.”

The Florida Legislature earmarked nearly $29 million in funding last spring for the long-needed improvements. Another $3 million allocation will pay for the refurbishment of the Education Library annex, built in 1979.

“This project will be the first major restoration work on Norman Hall in the building’s 84-year history,” said UF Education Dean Glenn Good.

He said the project’s first major phase is now underway. It involves emptying and vacating classrooms, labs and offices in the newer (1979) Norman Hall Annex wing and relocating to other space elsewhere in the original Norman building or on the UF campus. In May, occupants in the original Norman building will make a similar move into temporary quarters during its 18-month makeover.

The projected completion date for the work is September 2019, with plans for full occupancy and use by January 2020, according to Good.

The renovations and repairs will include an overhaul of the building’s infrastructure including a new roof, windows, plumbing, electrical system, heating, ventilation and AC, and removal of asbestos and lead paint.

Good said the most exciting improvements, though, will be the addition of many student-centered features, such as technology upgrades, configurable classrooms and meeting spaces, more space for research, and electrical outlets to support student technology needs.

Also, a roomy conference room will be added for hosting symposia and guest speakers. The conference center will connect to a new café bakery in existing space now serving as Norman Hall’s rear loading dock.

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