Project Profiles: Education

Normal Hall, Indiana State University, Terre Haute

Retrofit Team

Architect: arcDESIGN, Indianapolis
Roofing Contractor: Associated Roofing Professionals Inc., Terre Haute, (812) 466-6791
Stained-glass Restoration: Conrad Schmitt Studios, New Berlin, Wis.

Completed in 1909, Normal Hall is the second-oldest surviving building on the Indiana State University campus.

Completed in 1909, Normal Hall is the second-oldest surviving building on the Indiana State University campus.


For the roof replacement, Associated Roofing Professionals (ARP) installed a new modified bitumen roof system with a high albedo coating. All existing roofing was removed to structure and Garland’s StressPly EUV fiberglass-polyester reinforced SBS and SIS modified bitumen membrane was installed to provide long-term waterproofing protection.

The roof then was coated with Garland’s Pyramic white, nontoxic, acrylic coating, which helps preserve asphaltic or modified bitumen surfaces and significantly reduces under-roof temperatures to create a more energy-efficient environment.

Modified Bitumen Roof and Coating: The Garland Co. Inc.

The Retrofit

Completed in 1909, Normal Hall is the second-oldest surviving building on the Indiana State University campus—about one hour west of Indianapolis. Normal Hall has undergone multiple renovations, including an addition in 1957. By 2010, the grand neoclassical building was largely unoccupied and falling into disrepair.

Aside from the stately Indiana limestone, the building had to be redone from the foundation to the roof. The state of Indiana approved a $16 million renovation project and partnered with arcDESIGN to bring the building back to life. The history that makes Normal Hall special also made for unique challenges in the design and renovation process. “People will say ‘they don’t build them like they used to,’” says Greg Miller, project manager, arcDESIGN. He adds, in many cases, “it’s a good thing they don’t!”

Normal Hall was originally designed for and used as the university’s central library. At that time in history, because of open flames of gas lighting and an unreliable supply of electricity, indoor lighting could have been dangerous to a library’s collection. Therefore, libraries were designed to maximize natural light with plenty of windows, skylights and even glass floors. Instead of structural walls, Normal Hall’s six levels of bookshelves, or “stacks”, were designed structurally self-supporting, independent of the rest of the building.

Miller led the design team through the challenging process of removing the six-level stacks and replacing them with four new floors for offices and building systems. A portion of the stacks system was salvaged and reconstructed, providing the same view patrons would have had more than 100 years ago.

During construction, crews discovered unstable structural conditions on the north side of the building adjacent to the original 6-story stacks system. The entire exterior wall had to be removed and replaced while supporting the existing attic and roof nearly 60-feet above the ground floor.

The project includes rehabilitation of the stained-glass dome atop Normal Hall.

The project includes rehabilitation of the stained-glass dome atop Normal Hall.

To do this, crews constructed a 60-foot-high temporary structural system in and through the 6-story iron stacks system still in place to support the original attic and roof deck. The north wall was completely removed and reconstructed. Structural-steel columns supporting roof trusses were replaced while ends of deteriorated roof trusses were reconstructed in place.

“It was a monumental feat,” Miller says. “It was a great example of teamwork by Indiana State University, design consultants
and the contractor.”

The largest—and brightest—rehabilitation was the stained-glass dome atop Normal Hall. The original dome had deteriorated so extensively that, by the middle of the 20th century, the remaining glass panels were completely removed and the dome was completely hidden. A suspended plaster ceiling sealed off the once grand rotunda. “Imagine just a skeleton, an empty dome with only the ribs visible,” Miller describes.

The dome restoration began with historic photos, documents and forensic analysis. The glass art featured distinguished educators and philosophers. Some of the original stained-glass panels were recovered from the building while others had to be recreated. With the stained glass restored, rehab on the rotunda continued. Inside Normal Hall, the rotunda mural was restored and more than 140 surrounding light-bulb sockets were rewired to light the dome. Above the dome, a new 40-foot octagonal skylight and supplemental lighting was installed to light the dome. Below the rotunda, 20 original columns that stretch through the open hall were restored with scagliola and paint finishes.

The crew worked to save original hardware and finishes that hadn’t already been lost to time. They were able to restore and replicate plaster moldings and cornices, save original wood doors and casings, as well as restore the grand marble and bronze staircase. “The general contractor did a great job preserving the historic detail with the extra time they put into restoring this building,” says Seth Porter of ISU facility management.

Today, the original stately limestone structure, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is accentuated by the addition, comprised predominantly of glass and Indiana limestone. The addition houses functional requirements, such as stairs, elevators, restrooms and mechanical services, maximizing use of the historic interior spaces.

Rededicated in October 2015, Normal Hall is back in action as home to the university’s Center for Student Success and numerous tutors, counselors and mentors. Below the rotunda, students gather in the university Reading Room and Gallery modeled after the original hall when it opened to students in 1909.

Photos: Indiana State University Archives and Greg Miller, arcDESIGN

Be the first to comment on "Project Profiles: Education"

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: