Bryce Main renovations at University of Alabama include new portico
Renovation work continues on the Bryce Main building on the campus of the University of Alabama as a new portico is being added to the front of the central building.
The facility opened in 1861 as Alabama State Hospital for the Insane and was later named in honor of Peter Bryce, the hospital's first superintendent who was a pioneering figure in the field of mental health. Bryce Main is now being renovated to house the University of Alabama's Randall Welcome Center and the offices and classrooms for the School of Theatre and Dance, as well as a mental health museum.
According to Tim Leopard, senior associate vice-president of campus development, the old portico, which was not part of the original structure but was later added by Peter Bryce, was no longer in condition to meet building codes and had to be removed. The old structure was supported with brick columns. The new is undergirded with steel and concrete.
The University wanted the space to be able to host events where people would be able to walk out onto the balconies but officials were concerned the old structure would suffer a structural failure.
In addition to the work on the portico, the cupola is now surrounded by scaffolds and draped with tarps as work on the iconic structure proceeds. The east wing was completely demolished and rebuilt due to structural weakness while the west wing was thoroughly renovated. Both wings received new roofs that meet modern building codes but will exactly mimic the outlines and look of the old building.
The $83,750,000 renovation of the main building should be finished enough for an opening sometime late in 2023. The project will not yet be complete as a new performing arts center will be added to the north side of the structure. Leopard said the second and third floors of both the east and west wing will house the school of theater and dance but he does not expect to move those schools into the building until September 2026.
The 130,000-square-foot Smith Family Center for the Performing Arts, named for a UA alumni family that recently donated $20 million, will complete the renovation, adding a new structure consisting of a theatre and dance performance center.
"The (Bryce Main) building will open up at the end of 2023. The first floor, the welcome center, and the second floor where the Alabama Department of Mental Health Museum will be in the central pavilion will be open then," project manager Ashton Fisher said in an interview in 2022.
This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Bryce Main renovations include new portico