Restoring the Dome to its former glory
Following investigation work on the structure in Summer 2000, preliminary building work for the refurbishment of the Dome, dining hall, kitchen, basement and surrounding corridors commenced during the Easter vacation. New runs for cabling and pipes of all kinds involved trenching in the grounds and new ducting within the College itself. Care had to be taken to ensure ducts were either invisible (which is hard to achieve in a concrete building) or visible but acceptable to English Heritage. This work will be of lasting benefit, and will help greatly with future changes. The relocation of the maintenance team to the garages made room for an art store in the basement. The student laundry room opposite the JCR was closed, and the laundry was moved to the basement of Pearl House (formerly New Block) where facilities were significantly improved in terms of capacity and environment. A temporary kitchen was installed in Orchard Court and the Vivien Stewart Room successfully used as a temporary dining room. The main Dome works started in earnest in Summer 2001.
The whole project was completed by the end of 2002.
Work within the dining hall, kitchen and basement areas was largely invisible from the outside, but there were impressive scaffold structures around the building. The kitchen area was covered by a temporary roof, while demolition of the old kitchen roof was under way to allow the new servery to be built on the same level as the dining room. Later, the Dome itself was covered by a temporary roof, visible for miles around. Within the building ten metre piles were sunk to strengthen the structure; new drains were cut through the concrete slab. The basement has been reconfigured to provide a new art store and paper storage, improved staff facilities, and new plant rooms. Within the dining hall the wooden floor was removed, cleaned and reused after new underfloor heating had been installed; concrete facings were sand blasted and re-coated; and windows between the Dome petals were replaced. The old passenger lift was removed to reveal several inches of ground water at the bottom of the lift pit, but is now in working order again.
Thanks to all our alumnae and friends who supported us in this important venture.