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Poll: How Do You Feel About the Impending Loss of the Gallaudet Building?

Imposing 90-year-old hall will be replaced with a new building at the American School for the Deaf.

The signature building of the American School for the Deaf, 90-year-old Gallaudet Hall, will soon be replaced with a new building, school officials have said.

The new building — a 60,000-square-foot facility — is being designed by Tai Soo Kim Partners. Groundbreaking is planned for May.

That means that the grand hall seen across an expansive lawn on North Main Street will soon be gone.

ASD officials have said that the building "is no longer able to provide a safe or effective learning environment for the 200 deaf and hard-of-hearing students who attend the school."

Will you miss the Gallaudet Building as you drive down North Main Street, or do you look forward to the new facility?

Patricia Knolls April 18, 2012 at 11:12 AM
I understand the school's need for a building that better suits today's students. The building, as it stands now, is VISUALLY an asset to the town. I will only be upset if the new building does not hold up to that standard.
Nan L. Glass April 18, 2012 at 01:33 PM
I agree with Patricia Knolls' comment that visually the present ASD building reflects the colonial-style design and feel of much of the architecture of municipal and other buildings in the Center, but it may be more economical and efficient to replace rather than renew an old building. Tai Soo Kim is a local architect and I'm sure will design a building with the community's values in mind to create a contemporary landmark on North Main Street.
Marilyn Rettig April 18, 2012 at 06:37 PM
As the Director of Institutional Advancement at ASD, I would like to share some insight into the process that led us to build to a new state-of-the-art educational facility. Gallaudet Hall, while iconic, is 170,000 square feet, doesn't meet the needs of our current student population, is very expensive to heat and is much larger than we need. The new 60,000 square foot building represents a recommitment to West Hartford and a step forward for ASD.This new building will ensure that ASD will continue as a source of innovative programs and services and will be an asset to the children and families we serve and to the West Hartford Community.
Kathleen Costello April 18, 2012 at 06:54 PM
It's iconic, to be sure. But the users need to decide what works for them. Quite often an architect will incorporate elements of what works visually into the new design ... sometimes even leaving some or all of the facade. ASD picked a top-notch firm to design the new space, so I think the replacement will work aesthetically as well as functionally.
Susan Schoenberger (Editor) April 18, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Thanks for commenting, Marilyn. We really appreciate having your perspective on this question.
Kevin Larkin April 18, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Time for something new and with Tai Soo Kim's artistic flair it will be soon a new landmark for our town....odd that no one says very much about the former library building that stands vacant on North Main St. It had been a Prudential realty office but it is in need of $$$$ of repair and restoration-that building is so much more visible than Gallaudet Hall..
Lisa Petersen April 18, 2012 at 10:44 PM
While I understand the need for the new building, I hope that the design of the new building will be in keeping with the classic design of the current building. So many of the newer school buildings all look the same, a trendy look which will be outdated soon - just like mauve from the 1980s and the dark green/dark woods of the 1990s. I think this is the same architect who designed the new building at K-O with an exterior which is not in keeping with the rest of the architecture of the school. Such a disappointment to this K-O alum. I hope for better for ASD.
Regina Ona April 19, 2012 at 05:34 AM
Yes and no. The historic building with its surroundings is certainly beautiful from the outside. As a former teacher who worked inside, the building inside was no longer safe, building materials were crumbling creating health issues, heating system was very inefficient, expensive and very outdated (main floor hot, top floor cold) . It comes down to an issue of health/safety, money, and which option is more cost effective and suitable for current student population. I hope the new classroom designs will accommodate modern technology using full wall space to project lessons, etc. without glare from windows and numerous learning centers within each classroom (more space, not less). Of course, I will miss the building inside and outside, but there comes a time when change is needed and all we can do is participate in the process (making suggestions for design, etc) and "go with the flow". The teachers are still the same, dedicated.
Kathy and Al Darby April 19, 2012 at 01:34 PM
As alumni, we are very disappointed that the old Gallaudet Building will be torn down. We had great time with schoolmates during weekends when we stayed instead of going home. It brings lots of memories. However, we know it's time to do something about the old building due to expensive expenses to maintain a large building. In the olden days there were about 500 students but now that the enrollment has dwindled to about 200, it makes sense to replace it with a new, smaller and as well contemporary building. Hopefully, the new building will attract more students to enroll because the program, indeed, offer every aspect of learning for a deaf and hard of hearing student to be an all around person in society. We wish ASD the very best in the future. Kathy and Al Darby
Alocin April 20, 2012 at 01:06 AM
I don't understand why the need for a more expensive project? The options were clear.... Renovate the current building or Tear it down and build a new one The first option was cheaper while the second is more expensive all the while the population of the school still falls each year. This project sets the school up to fail within the next 10 years. Thus is the end of a great dynasty that was The American School for the Deaf. Mainstreamed Cochlear Impants...here we come.
Alocin April 20, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Actually one more thing, that picture of the new building....is highly misleading. The picture is made to allow the new building to appear the same size as the current Gallaudet building, but in reality that new building you see in the picture is smaller than the grade school (which is about a 1/6 the size of Gallaudet). More money dropped for a smaller building...smart...
Lisa Petersen April 20, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Just looked at a picture of the new building. As feared, ugly and trendy. Looks like something that was "futuristic" in the 1960s. Just sad...
June Freeman April 20, 2012 at 05:45 AM
I dislike the new designed building, too modern. I will be very sad to see the OLD Historic Gallaudet building GONE...heartbroken forever. ASD will not be the same, I promise you!
king of we ha April 20, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Who's paying for the new building?
Sharon Thomason April 21, 2012 at 01:05 PM
I agree. It would have been preferable to incorporate part of the old building's elements in the new design. . . I will mourn the loss of this landmark.
Jane Joe April 23, 2012 at 05:33 PM
As of the 21st Century the students will be very proud of the new modern Gallaudet building, not us the old times. I wish the 'students in the future' the highly best of the education in the future! About 'June promise you' on the previous message she meant that the old landmark of the ASD will not be the same as an old Gallaudet building as it is for 90 years. She always is fond of ASD/ASDAA! Thank you!
Jennifer Stafford May 15, 2012 at 05:27 PM
While I completely understand the need to go with the new school building, I am still very disappointed. After looking at the interior pictures of the Gally Building, I was relatively shocked to see how bad the building looked. I would have thought that the school would at least keep up with the repairs over the years. (I previously owned a house which was built in 1890 (122 years old) and I am familiar with what is involved with the upkeep.) This is so sad to see the school letting the building go like this. I also wish that they came up with the design a bit more classic and traditional than the one they went with. The one they decided to go with looks a bit "harsh" and "hard". Too modern for my taste... I will always have fond memories of the Gally Building...

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