Sorin College, built in 1888 and named after Fr. Edward Sorin, C.S.C, finally welcomed new and returning students back inside its walls this August after fourteen months of extensive renovations.
Sorin residents spent the last school year living in Zahm House while construction crews built a new addition on the West Courtyard. This expansion of the building was the third of its kind and was planned out by Fr. Sorin as outlined in a series of documents discovered by director of construction Tony Polotto and his team.
“There was a sketch from Fr. Sorin to actually enclose the building for a third edition when it was outgrown, essentially,” Polotto said. “The challenge from our office was always to make modern improvements to the building without destroying the character of the building because Sorin Hall is precious to this University and to the generations of students that graduated and went through the hall.”
Over 69,000 man hours were spent on the major improvements that included additional study lounges, social gathering spaces, offices, exercise rooms and kitchens. The majority of the first floor was converted to spaces for socialization and relaxation. The number of student beds increased slightly from 147 to 148.
These renovations were undertaken by various crews of electricians, roofers, concrete finishers and many other craftsmen who worked on the interior of the building.
“In some cases, we had 70 people there working and other days we had 10,” Polotto said. “It was an up and down process, but it averaged out to 33 people working on Sorin Hall everyday for fourteen months.”
Student responses to the new study spaces and kitchens the crews built have been overwhelmingly positive as the renovations have allowed for them to grow and congregate together in ways that had not existed for past generations, according to Sorin College president and sophomore Patrick Hanley.
“I think the first floor is definitely the most useful part just because that’s where the study rooms and the lounges are. That’s where our food sales are going to be set up,” Hanley said. “Before, with the exception of weekends, we’d hang out more in our rooms, but now, I see most students in the study room or lounges on the first floor.”
Upperclassmen shared in the consensus that it was great to be back in the dorm after a year without the unique traditions, history and the feel of their true home on campus, Hanley added.
Sorin College was the first facility declared a residence hall by Fr. Sorin, and there are several unique features that students are glad to see remain the same following the renovations.
“I think the biggest thing that sets Sorin apart is definitely the turret rooms,” Hanley said. “Those are the bigger rooms that have been a staple of Sorin for probably centuries, and I think some of the Four Horsemen lived in them. There are plaques that denote the history behind them.”
Polotto said the construction crews and the University intended to make the hall as beautiful as it could possibly be while also preserving the original structure of the building, and students appear to agree that those goals were achieved.
Polotto said he will continue to check in on Sorin College over the next several months to talk to students and receive feedback on the renovations.