Residential Revamp

By Melissa Blake

Last week new layers of green and gray-colored carpeting, coats of fresh paint, new furniture and advanced technology welcomed students at Grant Towers and Lincoln and Douglas halls thanks to a $2 million upgrade project.

The project, which started in Grant last spring, is nearing completion, said Michael Stang, director of residential operations. The remaining tables, couches and chairs for Grant’s lobby and floor lounges should arrive in various shipments during the next two to three weeks, but the carpeting and painting is finished.

None of the residence halls have seen this type of transformation since Stevenson Towers’ renovation in the late ’90s, said Sandi Carlisle, associate director of residential facilities. Funding for the project came from the Reserve Fund, which finances these types of projects, Carlisle said.

Room and board rates will not increase as a result of the projects, said Michael Coakley, assistant vice president for student life.

This type of project is a first for Grant, which houses 1,750 of the 6,000 students who live in the residence halls. In previous years, Grant “started to look run down,” Stang said.

To encourage residents to make better use of the lounges and make the environment more comfortable, a Web site was created in the spring for residents to vote on their favorite styles and fabrics, Stang said. Five hundred and forty nine students responded, Carlisle said.

“Students felt like they were involved in the process,” Stang said.

Nick Bell, a third-year English major and Grant resident, said construction was cutting it too close to when classes started, but the refurbished look will provide an extra incentive for students to take care of the hall.

“It makes [the halls] a lot nicer,” he said. done without the paint fumes and construction last semester. It would have been better if construction started after students left for the summer, said Erin Baker, a sophomore sociology major and Grant resident.

“The paint fumes were a bit strong and annoying at times,” she said, “And there were always men outside your door early in the morning.”

Other parts of the project, such as the Ethernet connections in Lincoln and Douglas, may not be as noticeable, but they are no less significant, Stang said. As computer traffic became too large, the DSL packages began slowing down resident’s computers, said Douglas Hall Director Nitin Goil.

While Carlisle considers the work on Grant a significant project, she is quick to point out it is not a total renovation, in which all of a building’s systems are replaced and its space is reconfigured. A major renovation is still in the future for Grant, Lincoln, Douglas and Neptune. These buildings, which were built between 1955 and 1966, will need to have the major building systems replaced at some point, she said.

For now, residential officials will continue to install power-assisted doors at Grant North and South’s main entrances. In September, the narrow doors leading into Grant will be removed and replaced with two doors for better traffic flow, Carlisle said. A new tutoring center in Grant South is slated to open Aug. 29.