KU News Release


Oct. 6, 2009
Contact: Jen Humphrey, Natural History Museum, (785) 864-2344

University building renovation singled out by architectural association

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LAWRENCE — The interior restoration of an 1894 University of Kansas building has been recognized for excellence by the Kansas chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

The association honored Sabatini Architects Inc. on Sept. 24 with the 2009 Award of Excellence for Renovation/Preservation for the firm’s work on the Commons in Spooner Hall.

The award singled out the design for its restrained aesthetic in preserving the innate grace of Spooner Hall while overcoming acoustical problems and making use of its abundant natural light, said Jordan Yochim, director of the Commons.

“The restoration allowed the beauty of the space to re-emerge and that, in turn, has inspired and enhanced the collaborative enterprise on campus,” Yochim said.

Barry Newton, professor of architecture, and architecture alumnus Gil Akos created the initial design conceptions for the space when Akos was a graduate student. Sabatini Architects adapted their designs to create a flexible, multifunctional space.

The Commons is a partnership among KU’s Biodiversity Institute, Spencer Museum of Art and Hall Center for the Humanities. A gift from Tom and Jann Rudkin of Los Gatos, Calif., to KU Endowment helped fund the renovations. The Commons opened for lectures, symposia, student meetings, performances and other events in 2008.

Spooner Hall opened in 1894 as KU’s library. It became the art museum in the 1920s, then the anthropology museum in 1984. In addition to the Commons, it now houses ethnographic and archaeological collections and faculty and student offices. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.


The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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