University News

Campus housing to be renovated, transformed

By
News Editor
Monday, February 13, 2012

The Corporation approved plans to undergo a $56 million renovation of campus housing, creating clustered first-year and sophomore communities.

The Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, approved a $56 million overhaul of campus housing at its meeting this weekend, bringing to fruition a plan administrators have been developing for years. Most dorms will be renovated or improved by fall 2013.

According to the plan, all first-years will be clustered in Keeney Quadrangle — which will be split into three buildings — and on the Pembroke campus in renovated residence halls. Sophomores, a major focus of the plans, will be clustered in the central area of campus, largely in double rooms. Most juniors and seniors will live in suites and apartments.

The Verney-Woolley Dining Hall will be open on weekends, and Andrews Dining Hall will be transformed into a student commons.

Administrators hope to be able to build a new residence hall in the near future.

Both dorm renovations and first-year and sophomore communities were deemed necessary, said Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services. “A lot of the plans were really shaped by concerns we were hearing from students.”

 

‘A distinctive first-year experience’

The plan, which calls for all first-years to be housed in “exclusively first-year areas,” will require significant changes to Pembroke campus, Klawunn said.

Miller, Metcalf, Andrews, Emery, Woolley, Morriss and Champlin Halls will all be renovated, though the levels of renovation will vary among the buildings, she said. Miller and Metcalf will be completely renovated — including converting single rooms to doubles — beginning this summer and continuing through fall semester. The other projects will take place over the summer of 2013.

“If we’re saying this is the Pembroke area transformation, we want the whole thing to look sparkling,” Klawunn said. Pembroke will house about 900 first-years.

Andrews Dining Hall — a space currently used for events — will be transformed into a student commons. While plans have not yet been finalized, the renovated dining hall will include spaces for studying, socializing and eating, Klawunn said. It will be “sort of like a small campus center,” she said.

The first floor of Andrews will be study space, and the outer terrace will have tables. The ground floor will have lounge space, including a game room and pool tables, as well as a new dining facility that would replace the Gate. The study space will be created this summer, while the other work is slated for summer 2013. Though a computer cluster with printing facilities is not part of the current plan, Klawunn said printing would be helpful in creating “an effective study space.”

The V-Dub will likely be open on weekends to foster a sense of community. “I lived on Pembroke freshman year, and it sucked having to come down to the (Sharpe Refectory) on weekends,” said Sam Barney ’12, Residential Council chair.

“They want to really turn Pembroke into a more self-sustaining hub,” she added.

Keeney Quad will be renovated and split into three separate buildings, each with an elevator. Entrances to the building will be through Keeney’s courtyards, which are also slated for a facelift, and “will become enlivened green spaces that people will actually be on and be using,” Klawunn said.

The proposal splits Keeney into three buildings because it “feels too big and impersonal,” Barney said. “People just don’t like that you can run around the whole thing.”

“Maybe people will get to know the people on their floor more if it’s smaller,” she said.

The proposal to split Keeney into three buildings was a “controversial one,” Barney said. “We kind of gave our approval, hesitantly.”

The University also plans to expand Keeney lounge space, both by renovating lounges on the top floors and adding them to each unit of the dorm.

Keeney room renovations will occur this summer, while the rest will be completed summer 2013. All rooms, except those of Residential Peer Leaders, will be doubles for first-years. It will hold around 600 students.

“By the time we get it done, every first-year student will be in a renovated area,” Klawunn said. “We want a distinctive first-year experience.”

 

Building sophomore communities

The plan calls for clustering sophomores in Slater, Littlefield, Hegeman and Caswell Halls, Hope College and Wriston Quadrangle. Most students will live in doubles, and Hope College and Hegeman will be renovated.

The first floor of Wayland House will also house students once the Office of Residential Life moves to Graduate Center.

“We wanted to make intentional sophomore communities to extend that cohesiveness from freshman year,” Barney said. The focus on the sophomore experience “really came out of ResCouncil.”

Currently, there is a “feeling that your sophomore year, you get leftover housing,” Klawunn said.

By creating housing options that are more similar and renovating dorms where necessary, ResCouncil and the University hope to alleviate the stress many freshmen may feel going into the housing lottery, Barney said.

Under the plan, there should be enough beds available for sophomores so that “no freshman will have to be in the summer assignment process,” Barney said.

The New Pembroke dorms may be a mix of first-years and sophomores, “depending on numbers,” Klawunn said.

The clustering of most sophomores into sophomore-only dorms in the center of campus “will allow students to have a more flexible social experience sophomore year,” Barney said, helping students meet and socialize with new people living near them.

ResCouncil will also review Greek and program housing this semester because of student complaints.

 

Moving up

Most juniors and seniors will live in suites or apartments, Barney said.

Perkins Hall will be renovated next summer and will be turned into single rooms. Individual students will live in rooms currently occupied by two students. “By the time you’re a junior or senior, you don’t mind being in Perkins because you know it’s not that far away,” Klawunn said. First-years currently dislike living in Perkins because it’s “too far from the center of campus,” she added.

A new dorm at 315 Thayer St. will be available for upperclassmen starting this fall, with roughly 60 beds, mostly in suites. Vartan Gregorian Quad will undergo minor improvements next summer, Klawunn said.

Minden Hall is slated for full renovation in the future but was not included as part of the plan approved by the Corporation. “We know it needs work, and it will be one of the things that comes up” after the planned renovations, she said.

Students have expressed concern about paying extra fees for suites and apartments, a complaint the University is looking into, Klawunn said.

Though proposals have called for larger windows and common rooms for Grad Center suites, the University is “debating what level of renovation” is necessary before approving any changes.

The University hopes to build a new residence hall with about 220 beds for juniors and seniors in suite or apartment style, Klawunn said. It has not yet chosen a site for the building, but the administration hopes to start it soon, as a new dorm would need three years between approval and completion. Klawunn said she hopes it will be discussed at the May Corporation meeting.

The University hopes to finance the renovations with gifts.

RPLs were briefed about the plans about two weeks ago, Klawunn said, and ResCouncil has been consulted throughout the process.