Erma Lowe Hall recognized for historic preservation


    A newly renovated piece of history on TCU’s campus is being honored for the preservation of its historical character.

    Erma Lowe Hall, which houses the School for Classical and Contemporary Dance (SCCD), was presented with the Preservation Project Award from Historic Fort Worth, Inc. Historic Fort Worth is a non-profit organization committed to preserving the historic character of Fort Worth. 

    Jerre Tracy, executive director of Historic Fort Worth, said Lowe Hall was given the award for the rehabilitation of a 1920’s gymnasium into a state-of–the-art dance facility. 

    The building was originally the university’s first gym and was adapted for the ballet department in 1973, according to university's building list.

    Formerly the Ballet and Modern Dance Building, Lowe Hall was renamed in September 2010 to honor Erma Lowe, a philanthropist and TCU trustee.

    The facility was renovated in December 2010 and re-opened in August 2011.

    Director of the SCCD Ellen Shelton said, “There was a concerted effort from the architects, TCU personnel and the SCCD to create a renovation that would serve our needs, but also that would maintain as much of our history and character as possible.”

    TCU alumnus and architect Michael J. Bennett nominated Lowe Hall for the award. Bennett is CEO of the architecture and planning firm, Bennett-Benner-Pettit. The firm was hired by the university for the adaptation of Lowe Hall.

    “We wanted to preserve the building and make it modern and functional for today, but not destroy the character of it,” Bennett said.

    Lowe Hall is a blend of modern and traditional, Shelton said. It incorporates a loft-style atmosphere with carefully preserved historical characteristics.

    The project was a challenge because there were no drawings of the original building, but it was very satisfying to be able to preserve a building that is a part of the university’s heritage, Bennett said. 

    Bennett said they tried to keep the original shell of the whole building intact. The original wall in the lobby was also preserved so people would be able to walk through part of the old building into the new one. Lowe Hall even features the original columns from 1921.

    “TCU reinvested in this historic building instead of tearing it down. It was a win for the program and a win for the campus community,” Tracy said.

    Sustainability was a factor that helped improve the building for modern times. Lowe Hall is LEED Gold Certified, meaning the building was designed for environmental quality and energy efficiency, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

    The Preservation Project awards ceremony will be Monday night at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center.