Modern Meets History at Loras College’s Keane Hall

Modern amenities met historic charm this spring when construction completed on the 1913 Keane Hall at Loras College.

A front entry stairway had long limited accessibility to the building that provides faculty office, classroom spaces and key administrative and admissions offices.

It’s a building that touches all students and has long been where tours started for prospective students. “This is the first impression of Loras College,” said Mike Doyle, Chief Financial Officer at Loras College. “We wanted students to be wowed when they walked in and now they are.”

After raising more funds than expected, the college worked with the IIW team to expand the project from the front entry and elevator installation to a major remodel that opened up the second floor with conference rooms, informal meeting areas and for the first-time clear views of the Mississippi River.

IIW worked alongside leaders at Loras College to create a plan for the entry, first floor and second floor remodeling of the 85,000-square-foot building that would meet the college’s current needs while protecting and elevating the building’s history. Doyle appreciated IIW’s attention to detail. A new full-length window on the building’s second floor that perfectly frames a view of the bridge over the Mississippi River connecting Iowa and Wisconsin is just one example.

“It’s Like It’s Always Been There”

IIW designed a reconfiguration of the front entry to allow an at-grade access to the building rather than a series of steps to ensure all students, staff, faculty and visitors could easily enter the historic facility.

Instead of bringing in new materials to complete the exterior of the updated entry, IIW worked with the contractor and college to incorporate signature rough-cut limestone salvaged during the demolition of the original entry.

The IIW team approached the addition of a much-needed elevator to century-old-building with the same intention and sensitivity. First, IIW’s designers developed a plan that located the elevator where it would connect the building’s seven levels.

To make the flooring at the elevators look like it had always been there, polished limestone salvaged from the demolition of the internal stairs was used to tie the elevator recess into the existing terrazzo and limestone floor. It also was used as a base for the railings of the new stairway.

“We didn’t lose the historic Old Main feel, but it is new and modern,” Doyle said.

Open, Engaging Spaces

The new design opens up the core of the building to create 1 ½ and 2-story open spaces that take advantage of the views of the Mississippi River while making the entry feel more open, welcoming and engaging for students, staff, faculty and visitors.

The first floor was remodeled to enhance its administrative and conference spaces for academic affairs, the registrar and admissions. Mullion-free glass encloses the new spaces to provide a modern, clean look that further highlights the building’s historic features.

“It exceeded expectations,” Doyle said. “It’s absolutely spectacular.”

In the spring, Loras College also will begin implementing the first phases of a master landscape plan created by IIW and their landscape partner Saiki Design for the area around Keane Hall, further enhancing the appearance and welcoming aspect of the new entry.

A ribbon cutting is scheduled for May 2.