According to published enrollment data, the total student population at UAH has increased from around 7,000 students to just under 10,000 students over the past five years, while the amount of classroom space has largely remained the same. This has created a classroom shortage that has affected the scheduling of classes for most every department across campus, especially for the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, which offers a number of classes that are general requirements for most students. These classes have traditionally been held in Morton Hall, one of the first buildings built on campus, completed in 1961.
Since its construction, Morton Hall’s electrical and heating and air systems had never been replaced and had reached the end of their useful lifetime; additionally, the recent surge in the student population resulted in the building providing inadequate classroom space. Because of this the UAH administration decided in 2017 to renovate the interior of the existing building and to build a substantial addition to it. The existing exterior of the building will not be altered, and the addition will be placed so that it will not detract from Morton Hall’s more traditional architectural style. Construction on this project started in the fall of 2018 and is expected to be finished sometime in 2020, according to the website of the UAH chief architect, with an estimated total cost of close to 24 million dollars.
Once finished, Morton Hall and the addition will continue to host the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. The two buildings are expected to house most of the classrooms, offices and other spaces required by the college, with the exception of those used by the Music and Art departments, who currently have a substantial amount of space in Roberts and Wilson Hall respectively. Following the completion of the project, there is a plan to continue the campus greenway to the area between Morton Hall and the Frank Franz residence hall in order to more effectively tie the two buildings together with the rest of the campus. Although the expansion and addition were not explicitly included in UAH’s five year master plan from 2016, the project fits with the master plan’s emphasis on “replacing and expanding academic buildings” to match current campus standards.
Currently construction is in full swing, and the addition has visibly began to take shape, with the steel structure of the building currently complete and work being performed on adding a brick veneer on the exterior. Since Morton Hall has been unusable during the entire project, most of the classes and offices usually in it have temporarily been moved to the Conference Training Center. Upon the completion of the project, however, the department will be able to hold these classes in state of the art facilities, more than making up for the inconvenience of having to transplant into another building for over a year.