Oxford College Updates Language Hall

OXFORD, Ga. — Language Hall, one of the oldest buildings on the Oxford College of Emory University campus in Oxford, recently underwent a $2.2 million transformation. Although the renovation was inspired by the original interior and Victorian-era exterior, the building was updated with newly configured classrooms featuring teaching technologies, as well as an addition that includes faculty offices.
Atlanta-based Lord, Aeck & Sargent (LAS) served as the architect on the project, which is targeted to achieve a minimum of LEED Silver certification, the standard for all major Emory projects.
Throughout the years, Language Hall’s 4,000-square-foot interior was partitioned to meet immediate needs of the students and faculty. Ceilings were lowered and walls were added, taking out windows that provided natural daylighting within the building.
The design team attempted to bring the building back to its original interior. All they had to base it on was a book written about the history and architecture of Oxford College that included a diagram of Language Hall’s first floor from when it was built in 1874, said Susan Turner, LAS principal-in-charge of the rehabilitation, in a statement.
“The diagram showed a staircase in the middle of a corridor leading from the rear entry up to the upper level,” she said in a statement. “The corridor was flanked on either side by large symmetrical classrooms. The main front entry included twin doors, each opening into one of the classrooms.”
Before the rehabilitation project began, neither floor resembled the original diagram. When the project team removed added walls and lowered ceilings, the layout revealed that the first floor central corridor and stair did not exist as shown in the diagram and that the second floor was similarly arranged. As the team continued the project, they found portions of the original plaster-covered masonry-bearing corridor walls, which helped them better understand the historic plan configuration.
The new design still focuses around the historic central corridor and keeps the remaining remnants of the corridor walls while still creating a widened area at the front of both floors to serve as a lobby and student gathering space. It includes four classrooms as well as an elevator, electrical closet, break room and three bathrooms — all of which can be accessed from the central corridor.