GWC’s Mabel Cratty Hall recognized for excellence in architectural design

Mabel Cratty Hall

Mabel Cratty Hall at George Williams College of Aurora University received a Merit Award for excellence in architectural design by the 2013 Design Awards program of AIA Wisconsin, the state society of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Mabel Cratty Hall was one of seven Wisconsin building projects to receive recognition.

Mabel Cratty Hall was designed by HGA Architects and Engineers and honored for its innovative and environmentally sensitive design solutions, as well as for its attention to detail and creative use of materials.

Aurora University officials asked the architect to restore the social and educational functions of the building, originally constructed in 1926, and the shared courtyard. After researching its historic qualities, HGA recommended retaining the exterior Arts and Crafts aesthetic shared by other campus buildings through respectful reconstruction and renovation.

A new entrance hall was created, and the wings to the courtyard were rebuilt to provide support services. A wraparound porch was reconstructed with period details and lighting. The energy efficiency of the entire building was improved by adding insulation, replacing all the windows and installing new heating and cooling units, which enable the building to be used year round. The interior was re-imagined for contemporary campus life while being consistent with to the original design intent.

The centerpiece of the project involved the renovation of the great hall, which was demolished to the structural framing before gaining a new polished cement floor. In addition, the project restored the fireplaces and inserted new vertical glass doors, restoring the concept of free flowing space from the courtyard through the hall and out to the porch facing the lake. The building brings the outdoors in, transforming from a warm fireplace study in the winter to an inviting and exciting event space in the summer.