Trinity’s fall 2022 construction projects introduce the new and transform the old

Projects include the grand opening of Dicke Hall and the renovation of the Chapman Center


Samuel Damon

The Chapman Center surrounded by construction fencing.

Over the last few semesters, there has been extensive construction across campus. With the exception of maintenance issues like the pipe fixing project that spanned the spring and summer of 2022, most of these sites have been contributions to the Campus Master Plan, a comprehensive set of goals to preserve and elevate Trinity’s Skyline campus. Two major contributions are the completion of Dicke Hall and the renovation of Chapman Center.

Just over a year ago, Trinity broke ground on Dicke Hall, which has since been nicknamed the new “Home for the Humanities.” Now, the building stands as a part of the Chapman-Halsell-Dicke complex and overlooks East Hildebrand Avenue. Robert Patrick, project manager, wrote in an email that although Dicke Hall is a new building, it was constructed to be architecturally consistent with the rest of Trinity’s structures. This pays homage to O’Neil Ford, the original Skyline campus architect, whose distinctive mid-century modern style is signified by Trinity’s classic red brick.

Dicke will house the English and religion departments as well as the Humanities Collective. Additionally, the building includes several classrooms, collaborative spaces, a lecture hall and a screening room.

“The building is absolutely stunning. The way that the architectural features and the natural light interact are breathtaking. I love coming to work here every day, and I feel inspired to do my research, writing and teaching here,” Kathryn Vomero Santos, assistant English professor and co-director of Trinity’s Humanities Collective, wrote in an email.

Santos emphasized the importance of having a physical space to encourage humanities learning and collaboration among students and faculty. In conjunction with the opening of Dicke Hall, the annual theme of the Humanities Collective is “Building.” Questions about how buildings and their designs shape the work of humanists will be explored by the Collective via different engagements throughout the year.

“The Humanities Collective was founded to serve as a hub for the humanities at Trinity, so we are thrilled to be able to build on that original mission by becoming a physical hub in which humanities faculty and students can gather and find intellectual community,” Santos wrote.

Although only two of the humanities departments are housed in Dicke, Santos said that the goal is to actively foster a space that includes all of the humanities disciplines.

As students, staff, faculty and members of the community walk to visit Dicke Hall, they may notice workers flowing in and out of Chapman Center. For the duration of the 2022-23 school year, Chapman will be remodeled to accommodate new technology, collaborative spaces and offices, including those of the newly established Michael Neidorff School of Business.

Robert “Bob” Scherer, in addition to serving as the dean of the Neidorff School of Business, is a member of the faculty shepherd committee which advises the construction taking place in the Chapman-Halsell-Dicke Complex. As a strong stakeholder, Scherer is committed to updating spaces to allow for a more innovative, inviting atmosphere.

On the first floor alone, there will be a business, analytics and technology laboratory that will include computers dedicated to the student investment fund and other majors, an accounting laboratory, an “Iconic Space” for students, staff and faculty to mingle and a renovated Great Hall that will be home to student study and collaboration. The second floor will be home to classrooms and more student breakout rooms.

Faculty and staff from the economics department, health care administration and the Neidorff School of Business will be housed in revitalized spaces with windows, adding to a “light and airy feeling,” according to Scherer. The dean’s office will be more prominent as a front door for the business school and will be named after Donald “Don” F. Van Eynde, retired Trinity professor of management.

Alongside the changes being made to the space, the historical and architectural features will remain a significant part of Chapman’s aesthetic. Jeff Meischen, a university project manager, said that the flooring, wood carvings and some of the light fixtures will not be touched during the renovation.

“Both Chapman and Halsell renovations were designed in accordance with the guidelines and requirements from the Texas Historical Commission, or THC,” wrote Patrick, the project manager. “[The] Great Hall, Chapman Auditorium, the exterior facade and the main entrance and corridors … will remain intact but with new or refurbished components and some original materials.”

Patrick also wrote that the Chapman project is progressing well overall. In light of supply chain issues with various materials during the construction of Dicke Hall, these same materials have been ordered sooner “to mitigate the risk of delays.” The renovations are expected to be completed by the summer of 2023.