Design plans to renovate Assembly Hall approved

The Indiana University board of trustees has approved design plans for the renovation of 43-year-old Assembly Hall, clearing way for construction to begin April 1.

The project is expected to be completed for the 2016-17 basketball season, the Herald-Times reported. The board approved plans for the $35 million renovation during a meeting Friday at IU Southeast in New Albany.

The design calls for the south lobby to have a glass wall for a view onto the court as well as interactive displays where fans can learn about past Indiana University athletes. The arena also will have an event suite that can fit 275 people and box seating for 112 in groups of six. The box seats will have TV monitors on the railings in front of them that architect James Schellinger says won't block the view.

Outside of the south lobby will be a plaza area replacing the current circle driveway. The plaza will have green space and connect Assembly Hall to neighboring Cook Hall.

The trustees previously approved renovations to IU's basketball arena at their June meeting after a $40 million donation from Indianapolis philanthropist Cindy Simon Skjodt, the daughter of late Indiana Pacers co-owner and shopping mall magnate Melvin Simon, last December. The donation is part of an ongoing $150 million athletics capital projects campaign.

IU vice president for capital planning and facilities Tom Morrison says renovations to restrooms and other high-traffic areas will likely be done in the off season. The facility will be under construction for the 2015-16 basketball season.

He says the plan calls for two escalators to be added to the north lobby, which will help with congestion while the south lobby is closed.

Morrison says decisions about upgrading the seating are still to be made.

The building will be re-named Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

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