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R E N O V AT I O N / R E S O T R AT I O N

E
vangelista Corporation, New Hudson,
has restored a classic space within one
of the most prominent buildings in
Detroit’s Cultural Center. With its decorative
cornices and tall windows encased in an
ornamental bronze grille, the long-vacant
library within the Horace H. Rackham
Education Memorial Building has been
brought back to life as an appealing study
hall for Wayne State University’s Department
of Communication Sciences & Disorders
(CSD).
Working with JW Design, Royal Oak, as
architect and Strategic Energy Solutions,
Berkley, as engineer, Evangelista Corporation
inserted contemporary infrastructure into
this second-floor study space, while
preserving the former library’s Art Deco
elements. The same project team undertook
the conversion of a Rackham kitchen and
cafeteria into a state-of-the-art Hearing
Sciences Laboratory. WSU leases the entire
wing of this grand old building from the
University of Michigan as clinical and
classroom space for both CSD and the
Psychology Department.

CITY BEAUTIFUL
Designed by Harley, Ellington and Day in
the 1930s, the Rackham Building rises across
Farnsworth from the Detroit Institute of Arts
and near the Detroit Public Library. All three
buildings form the Cultural Center Historic
District placed on the U.S National Register
of Historic Places in 1983. All three were
created in the first half of the 20th Century
PHOTO BY MARCI CHRISTIAN, CAM MAGAZINE

as part of the City Beautiful movement, a


grand vision to inspire social harmony and
civic virtue through the creation of
monumental and beautiful buildings.
The building’s namesake was one of the
original stockholders of Ford Motor
Company. “Henry Ford and other leaders
used to hold meetings in the building in the
1940s,” said Vince Pulsinelli, Evangelista
project manager and superintendent. The

GIVING VOICE Rackham Building contains storied but now


unused spaces, including a former bowling
alley, a poolroom, and a large auditorium.
“The auditorium is unbelievable,” said
Pulsinelli. “It is like a small Fox Theater. At

TO HISTORY
one time, the library, itself, was one of the
focal points of the building.”
Today, the former library inspires CSD
students to excel in the disciplines of
speech-language pathology and audiology.
Modest in square footage but grand in
BY MARY E. KREMPOSKY , ASSOCIATE EDITOR height, the 25-foot-tall study space has a
mezzanine and a main room now with Wi Fi
access and a host of new technologies

16 CAM MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2010 “Voice Of The Construction Industry”®


threaded through its plaster walls and
ceilings. Flexible, functional, charming and
elegant, Evangelista’s renovation of this
jewel of a study hall has given CSD faculty
and students a great place to work and
study.

ENTERING THE 21ST CENTURY


Evangelista launched the project in late
May 2009 with demolition of old shelving,
woodwork and carpeting. Another step in
the renovation was inserting contemporary
infrastructure without marring the room’s
appearance.
The Evangelista crew worked behind the
scenes – or actually above and below – to
hide all wiring and conduit. The Evangelista
crew worked above and walked across the
plaster ceiling to thread all the wiring for
wall sconces, light fixtures, operable blinds,
PHOTO BY MARCI CHRISTIAN, CAM MAGAZINE

and a projection system and screen into the


new study hall. “We actually walked right on
top of the plaster ceilings, and sometimes Evangelista Corporation brought this long-vacant
crawled, to fish the wiring down the wall,” library back to life as a study hall for Wayne State
said Pulsinelli. “Back in those days, the University’s Department of Communication
plaster was thick, almost an inch-and-a-half, Sciences & Disorders.
and the ceiling solidly built with lathe and
black iron.”
Installing the electrical floor mounts
entailed a repeat performance within the
ceiling space of the first-floor lobby. “We
crawled on our hands and knees to get
under the lobby’s plaster ceiling,” said Evangelista Corporation has established
Pulsinelli. itself as a highly qualified general contractor.
Thanks to the intrepid crew, this historic We've accomplished this by building an
room is now serviced with contemporary experienced management team with working
infrastructure, including a row of window knowledge of all phases of construction, and
shades that rise and fall in sync. The only listening closely to the needs of our clients.
remotely visible piece of infrastructure is a We maintain excellent communication with
new sprinkler system composed of small, architects, engineers and consultants as we
discreet circles in the ceiling that release and progress through each phase of construction.
“pop down” in the event of a fire. Our experience over the past 15 years gives
Evangelista Corporation the ability to
PAST MEETS PRESENT transform ideas, plans and specifications into
The hall is a study in the classic character successful building projects.
of historical buildings. The Evangelista team
of trade contractors repaired the stately row We are structured to bid, negotiate, manage and
of tall, narrow windows, replacing several contract any project regardless of size.
broken panes of glass and cleaning the
bronze interior mullions by hand with a The Evangelista Edge is the commitment to your complete satisfaction of quality
special solution, said Pusinelli. These elegant construction, on time and within budget.
windows draw in natural light and offer a
wonderful view of the Art Deco bronze grille
covering the window exterior. The
decorative abstract floral pattern is repeated
in the newly cleaned and restored
mezzanine railing.
The Evangelista team also restored the 55800 GRAND RIVER AVE, SUITE 150 | NEW HUDSON, MI 48165 | 248-888-0400 PHONE | 248-486-6426 FAX
function and character of the main room’s
original lights by disassembling, rewiring, W W W. E VA N G E L I S TA C O R P O R AT I O N . C O M

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R E N O V AT I O N / R E S O T R AT I O N

PHOTO BY MARCI CHRISTIAN, CAM MAGAZINE


The 25-foot-tall study space has a mezzanine and a main
room with Wi Fi access and a host of new technologies
threaded through its plaster walls and ceilings.
PHOTO COURTESY OF EVANGELISTA CORPORATION

Anthony Cacace, Ph.D., CCC-A, one of the


leading authorities on tinnitus research in the
country, is now conducting cutting-edge
research in this newly renovated laboratory.
PHOTO COURTESY OF EVANGELISTA CORPORATION

PHOTO COURTESY OF EVANGELISTA CORPORATION

Conversion of a former cafeteria into a lab


included removal and restoration of the
original wood wainscoting and
its installation in Cacace’s office.

and cleaning the metal fixtures. “The light are a vast improvement over the 2 x 4 resemble metal with complementary vertical
fixtures didn’t work at all,” said Pulsinelli. fluorescent fixtures formerly in place. bands of turquoise and coral. The second is a
“We removed the old-style wiring, and then Evangelista also cleaned, but left decorative strip dividing the mezzanine and
rewired the lights and installed new lamps.” untouched, two bands of decorative painting main ceilings with a geometric pattern in
New pendant fixtures in the mezzanine from the 1930s. The first band is the main varied hues of green. “They wanted to use the
complement the original light fixtures and room’s ornamental plaster cornice painted to cornice and decorative strip as a focal point of

18 CAM MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2010 “Voice Of The Construction Industry”®


the room,” said Pulsinelli.
Contemporary materials, colors and
patterns, such as those in the new carpeting,
complement these original elements.
Contemporary insertions also bring their
own functionality and flair to the study
space. Clustered panels of white marking
boards have replaced old wooden
bookshelves. DIRRT panels have replaced
old bookshelves with backlit panels,
illuminating the lovely leaf patterns of these
turquoise-colored glass and acrylic panels.
In one instance, Evangelista altered the
actual space by inserting a new dividing wall
to carve out a small conference room. As in
the main spaces, new carpeting and a new
coat of paint complete the transformation.
Marrying the old and the new, Evangelista
worked an original wheel-shaped light
fixture into a standard acoustical ceiling.
Of the study room overall, “It is wonderful
and incredibly flexible,” said Jean Andruski,
chair of the Department of Communication
Sciences and Disorders. “The students use it
for study, and we use it for different
seminars, while the new conference room is
used for faculty meetings. The psychology
department has even borrowed the study
space from us for training seminars.”
New tenure-track faculty even delivered
presentations in the newly renovated
facility. This unique and newly renovated
enclave aids the department in attracting
quality faculty and students. “It is really an
appealing space,” Andruski added. “We show
it off to everybody we can. It is really one of
those things that sets us apart.”
In the study hall’s elevator lobby,
Evangelista added to the facility’s historical
character by refurbishing the former library’s
old wood card catalogue, a shelving unit
composed of dozens of small cubbies once
filled with the well-thumbed index cards
commonly used by libraries across the globe
before the computer age. Evangelista worked
throughout the summer and finished in late
September 2009 on this distinctive study
space, as well as miscellaneous flooring
installation and painting for miscellaneous
stairways and hallways.

FROM KITCHEN TO LABORATORY


Evangelista worked concurrently on the
conversion of a former kitchen and cafeteria
into a lower-level laboratory. Anthony
Cacace, Ph.D., CCC-A, one of the leading
authorities on tinnitus research in the
country, is now conducting cutting-edge
research in this former eatery.
The room was in terrible disarray before

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R E N O V AT I O N / R E S O T R AT I O N

the Evangelista team took over and used to conduct national research on a research for publication. In the future,
renovated the 800-square-foot space by cutting-edge method of suppressing students in the newly renovated study hall
interior demolition and installation of new tinnitus called trans-cranial magnetic may be reading research results generated
drywall ceilings and walls. The newly stimulation. “There are very few people in in the laboratory below them.
renovated space now houses two specialty the country and only a couple places in the As part of the renovation, Evangelista
sound-treated testing booths (both outside world that use this method of stimulating removed and restored the old wood
of Evangelista’s scope of work) that aid in a the brain to suppress tinnitus,” said Cacace. wainscoting on the perimeter of the former
number of research initiatives. One booth is Cacace is on the brink of submitting his cafeteria and re-installed it in Cacace’s office.
“It wasn’t in great condition,” said Pusinelli,
“but we fixed it up to retain some of the old
flavor of the building.” Added Cacace, “They
did a nice job.” Of the lab itself, Cacace is
equally pleased. “Now students have a nice

challenge?
place to work,” he added.
The opening of the new study hall and
Cacace laboratory in late January 2010 was
music to the ears of the Department of
Communication Sciences & Disorders. The
project is also a testament to the skill of
Evangelista Corporation. News must travel,
for the company is already hard at work
remodeling the Music Department in Old
Main, as well as a lower-level coffee shop in
the Student Activities Building, and an
elevator project in the adjacent Education
Building, according to Mark A. Evangelista,
P.E., president of the company. Gaining more
projects is always a sound reward for a job
well done.

RACKHAM LIBRARY AND CACACE


LABORATORY SUBCONTRACTORS:

• DIRTT Panels – American Interiors,


Wixom
• Glazing – Glasco Corp., Detroit
• Flooring, Marble Sills New and

We thrive on it! Restored – Contract Design Group,


Royal Oak
• Doors and Hardware – LaForce, Inc.,
Troy
• Painting – Skylite Painting Co., Livonia
• Motorized Shades – Drapery by
Ernest, Inkster
• Plumbing – Western Mechanical,
Clinton Township
• Fire Protection – Tri-Star Fire
Protection, Plymouth
• HVAC – Western Mechanical,
Clinton Township
SPECIALIZING IN THE CONSULTING, DESIGN AND • Electrical – LeCom Electric, Inc.,
Roseville
INSTALLATION OF ARCHITECTURAL SHEET METAL WORK • Selective Demolition, Carpentry,
Acoustical Ceilings – Evangelista

CASS SHEET METAL Corporation, New Hudson

Subcontractors and professional consultants

(313) 571- C.A.S.S. listed in this feature are identified by the


general contractor, architect or owner.
5641 CONNER • DETROIT, MI 48213

20 CAM MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2010 “Voice Of The Construction Industry”®