By Brian Cook
The future of Ohio Wesleyan’s residence halls is now clearer with the completion of a plan from Mackey Mitchell Architects.
In October, the firm presented to the Board of Trustees a comprehensive package of renovation options the university could pursue.
According to the report, there are three different renovation options. The first option would “replace building infrastructure systems that have exceeded life expectancy and upgrade life safety features.”
This option, according to Mackey Mitchell, would result in little to no loss in capacity
The second option would “provide enhancements achieved with modest alterations,” according to the slideshow presentation.
According to Mackey Mitchell, this plan would result in a loss of two to three percent of present capacity in residence halls.
The most costly option would be to “reconfigure spaces to reflect current best practices in student life design,” which would result in close to a 10 percent reduction in present capacity according to the report.
Craig Ullom, vice president for Student Affairs, said any reduction in capacity in residential buildings would not include Stuyvesant Hall, which recently underwent renovation completed in the fall of 2012.
Wendy Piper, assistant dean of Students Affairs and director of Residential Life, estimated that the third renovation option would cost the university $90-100 million.
Piper said most of the improvements would go into projects that students would not be able to see from the outside.
“Eighty cents of every dollar go behind the walls,” she said.
The scope of work for the university starts with focused improvements. Piper described these as “more of a surface improvement,” with most of the money going into cosmetic improvements and a minority of the money going to improvements behind the walls.
The university is also exploring a restoration of the residence halls, according to a report detailing the next steps of the Student Housing Master Plan (SHMP).
Piper said renovation would involve “returning (the residence hall) to its original condition.” She said things like electrical wiring and plumbing repairs would take up a large percentage of the budget for the project.
Freshman Woody Jamiel said he would like to see improvements to the quality of living in Thomson Hall and Bashford Hall.
“Thomson and Bashford Halls definitely should get air conditioning and new flooring,” he said.
Sophomore Hideo Kikuchi said he would like to see some soundproofing in the walls.
“I need (soundproofing in the dorm room and living room) to use Skype… because talking by Skype and phone is noisy,” he said.
Kikuchi also described the color of the dorms as “dreary.”
In addition to the renovation projects, a plan has been proposed to construct brand new Small Living Units (SLUs), as well as build an apartment complex that would sit at the intersection on Rowland Avenue and Liberty Street.
According to the Mackey Mitchell report, the SLUs have a number of structural problems. Some of those problems include “water infiltration into stone basements” and “lack of ADA compliant accessibility.”
The report said the cost to renovate the SLUs would be prohibitive, and instead recommended that replacement SLUs be built.
Jamiel said the building of new SLUs would not impact his desire to live in them, but he said it would be a “great idea” to build the apartments.
Craig Ullom said an earlier version of the Student Housing Master Plan in 2010 included replacing the SLUs with apartments, but the university now intends to follow the recommendation of the Mackey Mitchell report and build new SLUs, as well as build the new apartments.
According to the SHMP report, the total cost of all the projects will add up to approximately $60.5 million. This amount includes $45 million allocated to the residence halls and fraternities, and $13 million for new SLUs and apartments.
The university estimates that it will cost about $37,000 per bed to renovate the residence halls and fraternities, while it will cost $65,000 per bed to build new SLUs and apartments.
Per the SHMP, the university has already invested more than $20 million into the residential side of campus, which included an overhaul of Stuyvesant Hall, renovations to 4, 23 and 35 Williams Drive, and focused improvements in Hayes and Welch.
Ullom said with the anticipated new apartments, the university will have to build at least one additional parking lot, probably near Bashford Hall.
According to Ullom, building all the new buildings and parking lots is contingent on gaining approval from city officials.