Preliminary work will start in the coming days on $2.5 million in improvements to the Waco Hall complex at Baylor University that will improve external access for people in wheelchairs, renovate a service elevator and improve music studio sound insulation.

The construction work, approved by Baylor regents last month, will make access to Waco Hall compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Waco Hall director Joshua Gilliam said improvements would include building outdoor ramps that will allow people in wheelchairs more direct access to Waco Hall’s lobby.

A freight elevator in Roxy Grove Hall, adjoining Waco Hall, will be renovated to allow both cargo and passengers to travel between Roxy Grove Hall’s three levels. An elevator providing audience access to the Waco Hall balcony, however, is not in this project, though a more extensive Waco Hall renovation may be considered in the future as part of Baylor’s Illuminate academic strategic plan.

The elevator construction has forced the Baylor School of Music to relocate two professors’ studios to accommodate stairs near the elevator, School of Music Dean Gary Mortenson said. Also included in the Waco Hall upgrade is soundproofing some practice rooms and studios in the Waco Hall complex that houses part of the School of Music.

“We truly appreciate that the regents have agreed to proceed with this work,” Mortenson said. “This is not sexy work, but it’s important work.”

In addition to numerous Baylor activities and events, Waco Hall hosts the Waco Symphony Orchestra’s concerts, public events and lectures.

Construction and renovation work will take place in stages through August and will periodically affect parking areas next to Waco Hall East and the Tidwell Bible Building. Entrances and access stairs also may be closed at various times through the renovation, Gilliam said.

The renovations are the first major facility improvements since a lobby makeover in 2009 and seating reupholstering in 2003, Gilliam said.

Tribune-Herald entertainment editor

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