Historic wing in UT-Austin Life Science Library reopens after 3-month renovation

Will Brooks

The Hall of Noble Words, one of the University’s oldest study spaces, reopened in the Main Building Monday after nearly three months of renovations.

The hall is located in the east wing of the Life Science Library, on the second floor of the Main Building. Renovations included retrofitting the original wooden desks with power outlets, adding new furniture and replacing the historic chandeliers with energy-efficient ones, said Travis Willmann, communications officer for UT Libraries. Students have studied in the Hall of Noble Words since before the UT Tower was finished in 1937, Willmann said. 

“The old chandeliers were removed and replaced with these newer ones,” Willmann said. “They still have a sort of classic look to them, but they’re not the artifacts of the original space. These were built for modern standards in lighting so they provide a sort of softer light in the space.”     

The hall was last renovated in 2007, according to Project Management and Construction Services, and was due for an update, said Anthony Tomasello, evening supervisor for UT Libraries. 

“The place was kind of dingy,” Tomasello said. “Now it just feels better … (Other top-tier universities) always look immaculate. I always felt like, ‘You need to put more money into taking care of this place.’” 

The library wanted to maintain the building’s historical elements throughout renovations, Willmann said. 

“We’re not doing anything with the beams or the original architectural effects because that would be a much more involved process,” Willmann said.

By renovating the hall, the library wanted to also adapt to students’ current needs, Willmann said.  

“The older style of architecture makes you feel like a student,” Tomasello said. “I feel like the modern buildings make you feel like you’re in an airport.” 

William James Battle, who later became president of the University, selected the 31 quotes that sprawl across the ceiling’s beams from historical figures, novels and holy books, according to a report from Project Management and Construction Services. The hall is named after the gold-painted quotations that cover the hall’s structural beams. 

Government junior Cayden Connally said he finds inspiration in the quotes selected by Battle over eight decades ago.

“I just think it’s inspiring to see all the words on the ceiling,” Connally said. “Sometimes it’s distracting, but it’s a nice break from staring at a computer screen.”