Residence halls receive a facelift over the summer


Photo credit: Oliver Chapin-Eiserloh

Photo by Oliver Chapin-Eiserloh

Students were welcomed back to campus with updated residence halls after four underwent renovations this summer.

The interiors of South Hall, Verna McLean Hall, Harold D. Herndon Hall and Albert-Herff Beze Hall received updates in functionality and visual appeal. Facility Services worked during the summer to complete residence halls before students arrived on campus. To do this, Facility Services created a new renovation format which changed the way that contractors are normally selected and how the scope of work is identified.

Jim Baker, director of Facility Services, handled the specifics and on-the-ground project management of all four of the building renovations. Before this new renovation format, Facility Services would put out a single bid for all of the renovations they wanted done. Now, they use a hybrid system where they develop the scope of work and then put out a bid.

“We opted to do a hybrid type system where we still developed the work, and then we selected the contractor to do the work. Because it was an 11-week project, you have to be very careful of who you want to do the work. Because if it isn’t complete, you guys suffer, not us,” Baker said.

Single rooms were added to South Hall. The North/South Foyer received new flooring and will be furnished using student suggestions. The renovations done also include furniture and bathroom renovations and a new sprinkler system.

McLean Hall used to have three separate laundry rooms. Now, after the construction, McLean has one laundry room located on the first floor. A gathering area was also added to the fourth floor that connects to the exit on the roof. Additionally, the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system was revamped. New flooring, furniture, bathroom renovations were added to every dorm, and the fire sprinkler system was updated.

Herndon Hall and Beze Hall both received updates that focused on exterior renovations to make the building look more modern. The interior flooring and bathrooms in every dorm and in both residence halls were updated.

As the renovations were being completed, back up in one of the sewer lines in South was discovered on Tuesday by students and reported to Residential Life.

“There was a back up in one of the sewer lines, but that has been resolved. When you renovate like this sometimes things end up in the lines that aren’t supposed to and sometimes things like that do happen. They’re not expecting it to happen again,” Deb Tyson, director of Residential Life and project chair for the summer renovations, said.

The renovations took the contractors working seven days a week over the 11-week period to finish all four residence halls in time for move-in.

“I think it’s important for people to know that it was a very ambitious timeframe for the amount of work that needed to be done for the four renovations, but the men that were involved with the renovations worked extremely hard. Seven days a week these guys were on site. They worked really hard to get all four of those buildings done,” Tyson said.

Bradley Sykes, a resident assistant for Beze 3rd floor, enjoys his time living in a newly renovated residence hall.

“Moving into a renovated residence hall has been great. The paint job looks good and the bathrooms are really nice. My favorite part about the on campus renovations are the kitchens in Beze Underground and McLean. I’m looking forward to being able to cook in the brand new kitchens,” Sykes said.

Several of the renovations done were student driven ideas. Tyson encouraged student suggestions and involved them in the renovation process, especially in creating a new gathering area in McLean.

“We took the student suggestion where they wanted a gathering area close to the rooftop patio, so we took two of the suites on the fourth floor that has elevator access and turned that into a student gathering area,” Baker said.

In looking at the work that will continue to happen over the school year, student input will continue to be important. Deciding the furniture needed in the North/South foyer will be one major place for student input.

“We’re going to be sending out an email saying ‘What do you want this foyer area to look like, what’s useful for students?’ We could just go and order all of the furniture and fill it in and the students could walk in, but we don’t want that. We want to give the students a chance to say this is what we want to do with the space,” Tyson said.

This same student-driven approach is going to be used in furnishing the room next to McLean’s newly renovated fourth floor kitchen.

“McLean has a brand new kitchen on the fourth floor. We didn’t order furniture for the room next to that either because we’re going to send emails out to McLean and say ‘How do you want to help us envision using the space?’, and as we get good ideas then we’ll be able to put that out to the community and make a recommendation and get furniture and so on,” Tyson said.