Sustaining Buildings... and Memories

The sustainability movement in design and construction has made a huge difference in our environmental impact and energy consumption; but for me, one of the biggest benefits has been our increased focus on existing buildings—including historic structures. As National Historic Preservation Month comes to a close, I’ve been thinking about some of the preservation projects I’ve worked on over the past 42 years.

One of my favorites is a recent project that repurposed—and saved—Murray Hall, a women’s dormitory building set at the historic entrance to the Oklahoma State University campus in Stillwater. Murray Hall was constructed in 1935 and had been vacant for a decade. The building’s configuration and obsolete systems left it unfit for use, but to the university’s credit, administrators had the vision to proceed with a transformation to bring the building back to life.

Today, after a complete renovation and redesign, Murray Hall houses OSU’s College of Arts and Sciences. With all-new technology, systems, a lecture hall and a vibrant student plaza, the building shines with new purpose. And yes, as a retrofitted existing building, this is sustainability at its best. More importantly, OSU has sustained an important part of its Georgian architectural heritage, and a lot of great memories for all who have been part of Murray Hall’s history.

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