The auditorium at Utah State University's historic Old Main will be demolished soon and USU President Stanford Cazier says lawmakers are expected to approve a $4.8 million request to restore the east wing.

Cazier told the USU Institutional Council on Saturday that many of the auditorium's seats already have been removed by volunteers and will be placed in the balcony of the old Capitol Theatre acquired by the city of Logan last year.The restoration of Old Main is a major project that began after a 1983 fire caused extensive damage in the north wing.

"Old Main was due for a renovation and this gave us the chance to do the extensive project that was needed, rather than do something piecemeal," Cazier said.

The rehabilitation of the north wing is finished and Cazier said $2 million was approved by the Legislature last year for demolition and preliminary work on the east wing. He said Old Main is listed No. 2 on the state's building priority list.

Scott Theobald, project architect for Design West Inc. of Logan, said when debris was cleared from the 1983 fire, Old Main was found to be seismically unsafe.

He said it was decided the building, listed on the national historic register, was worth preserving, so the previously unreinforced structure is being totally reinforced.

"We are essentially building a new structure shell inside the building, then tying the two together, bringing Old Main up to present codes," he said. "I think this is the first attempt to do something like this in the state."

Theobald said the lower floor of the east wing will contain offices, a vending room, printing room, mechanical room and four auditoriums, while the second floor, now the auditorium balcony, will have classrooms and two auditoriums.

The third floor will house the history department, and the fourth floor, now attic space, will serve as a computer science department.

"The only external change will be construction of a new major entrance and tower facing the quad on the east," he said. "Bricks which match the original building were found in Lehi where a school had been torn down and that finding played a big role in the decision to have the tower."