A comprehensive renovation and modernization of the 127-year-old building began in March 2022. Although Root’s exterior has been preserved, the interior was entirely reconstructed with a two-pronged goal in mind: to offer comfortable and inviting spaces for humanities students to study and collaborate with professors and each other, and to address accessibility issues and sustainability goals.

Root Hall houses the Africana Studies, Classics, Religious Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies departments and features 20 offices, five classrooms, four meeting spaces, and additional areas for studying and collaborating. The building now includes areas that can be used for multiple purposes. The second floor, for example, has a movable glass wall that can open to create a wide space for larger events. When the glass is closed, the area functions as a conference room.

An accessible entrance was added to Root’s west side, and an elevator provides access to each of the building’s four floors. Accessible restrooms can be found on all levels. The building features an insulated roof, energy efficient windows, LED lighting, and geothermal wells for heating and cooling. Additionally, snow melting systems were added at both building entrances.

H2030 Carbon Neutral“We eliminated the gas service to the building. It’s now all electric, so the building contributes to our 2030 goals of reducing our carbon footprint here on campus,” said Barry Rivet, director of planning and project management.

One of the most evident changes to Root Hall is the building’s use of glass, which allows for more natural light. Rivet said that in the past, classroom settings were thought to be “very much their own entity” and that architectural elements were expected to focus solely on the inside classroom environment. Today’s classroom spaces are made more welcoming and inviting by bringing elements from the outside into the interior design of the building, such as introducing skylights on the fourth floor. In keeping with that, Rivet said the architects’ vision was to construct an “inviting space that not only looks good from the outside looking in, but from the inside looking out.”

Root Hall was originally built in 1897 and designed by Carrère and Hastings, the architecture firm famed for their design of the New York Public Library. The Root Hall renovations were designed by Dewing Schmid Kearns Architects + Planners and funded through the recently completed Because Hamilton campaign.


Contact Name

Facilities Management

Office Location
9 Miller Road

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