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Housing office plans for dorm renovations

Mel Flanagan | Thursday, April 25, 2013

The University will renovate several residence halls for a variety of reasons this summer, according to Jeff Shoup, director of the Office of Housing.
Shoup said for approximately six years the housing office has been gathering data on whether the halls are making optimal use of their space.

“We’ve been looking more closely at the halls and how we use their rooms and square footage,” he said. “Our goal has been and continues to be to make sure that, for example, what is a double in Dillon [Hall] is close to a double in Stanford [Hall].”

Shoup said his office studies housing applications each year to determine if the residence halls can handle the number of spaces requested.

“Sometimes we get a few more students moving off and sometimes a few more staying on,” he said. “It’s kind of fluctuated.”

Regardless of the guesswork involved, Shoup said his office does significant research to be fairly confident in predicting how many spaces each residence hall will need the following year.

“We look at the number of people we have retained and the anticipated number of first-year students and it’s a bit of an educated guess, but I think it’s pretty educated with all the data I have,” he said.

This spring, more women chose to remain on campus for next year than the office had predicted. As a result, some female dorms such as Farley Hall and Cavanaugh Hall are adding beds.

“Those were the two that we have added the most beds to,” Shoup said. “Rooms that had been used as triples in past years, we moved back down to doubles in the last couple years. We’re making them back into triples. It happens a little every school year.”

Despite this, Shoup said renovations to the residence halls are not all to increase the maximum occupancy of the dorm.

Lyons Hall, which will undergo renovations this summer, will decrease its occupancy. The changes include converting student rooms to study spaces and adding a kitchen.

“We had used the annex, which is not a great place for rooms, for students’ rooms,” Shoup said. “We’re already working on changing that space.”

Lyons rector Megan Brown said the changes to the dorm have been planned for a long time.

“Since Lyons’ need for an upgrade was very high, given both the limited amount of public space per hall resident and the condition of public spaces in the hall, Lyons was the perfect candidate for an experiment in hall renovations,” Brown said.

Brown said she expects students will be satisfied with the renovations.

“The increase in public space in the hall will be a huge benefit to the women in the hall, since the hall currently lacks adequate study and social space compared to most other halls on campus,” she said.

Some male dorms will decrease their occupancy next year as well, Shoup said.

“Some of the men’s halls are putting some rooms that had been student rooms back to lounges,” he said. “We’re reducing rooms in Stanford [Hall] and Keenan [Hall].”

Although several dorms will undergo minor reconfigurations, Shoup said the only major renovations for next year will take place in Lyons Hall.

These changes will hopefully provide insight into future renovations for other residence halls, Brown said.

“If student satisfaction with the space increases accordingly, we may have found a new model for hall improvement going forward,” she said.

Contact Mel Flanagan at [email protected]