When Concordia College’s students return this week, they’ll find that The Commons has a bright new look. While the building’s food preparation and serving areas underwent a complete renovation three years ago, the dining hall has remained largely untouched until now.
Built in 1909, The Commons – along with Feth Administration Hall and Bohm Hall – is one of Concordia College’s original trio of buildings. The architect was Edward Lippincott Tilton, who with William Boring also designed several of the buildings on Ellis Island. Elements of the Renaissance Revivalist movement can be seen in both the Ellis Island buildings and Concordia College’s architecture. The Commons’ cavernous space, with its high windows and handsome woodwork soaring to the 25-foot ceiling, resonates with a timeless solidity.
Respect for the building’s historical significance informs the renovation being carried out by architecture and design firm Peter Gisolfi Associates, which has also been awarded the implementation of Concordia College’s master plan. To that end, the changes touch several surfaces without altering the building’s essential character. The woodwork has received a new coat of paint for a lighter, brighter look. Vinyl flooring installed in the 1970s has been replaced with an expanse of new porcelain tile, highlighted with areas of decorative patterning. The various historical plaques that once ringed the room have been carefully preserved and await a better-integrated display plan.
Exceptionally solid construction has allowed the Commons’ tables and chairs to serve generations of students, staff and faculty since 1945. While the chairs will be replaced over Spring Break, the tables will be refinished, as replacements of equal quality would be prohibitively priced.
The Commons is now reopened.