Directional halls reopen with fresh look

Hollan Holm

Two sophomores’ wait for a better dorm room began on a Sunday afternoon four months ago as they sat in line outside Potter Hall.

Their wait ended Thursday morning.

Caleb McCain and Nick Bacon from Murfreesboro, Tenn. got lost on their way to the room they had waited for since April. But McCain eventually wheeled his mountain bike around, navigated across cable that construction crews had yet to install and found his and Bacon’s first floor room in Southwest Hall.

Once inside, the two took a second to look around at the newly renovated room. They saw the private bathroom, freshly laid gray tile floor, numerous power outlets and data ports, movable furniture and new windows. With each new item noticed, exclamations of “awesome” and “sweet” escaped their mouths.

McCain was left with one conclusion.

“It was definitely worth the wait,” he said.

Students began hauling boxes and appliances into the newly renovated Northeast and Southwest dorms Thursday morning.

The move marked the culmination of a $14.5 million renovation of the four directional halls – North, South, East and West – that began in June 2001.

Construction crews are still working on a $750,000 plaza between Northeast and Southwest.

President Gary Ransdell said Wednesday that the renovation of the four dorms is “the most significant single project in the transformation of the residence halls.”

“We’re glad to get that phase of the project complete,” he said.

Brian Kuster, director of Housing and Residence Life, said the renovations were targeted toward giving residents choices in their rooms.

“We wanted to give more control of the room to the students so they can take control and make it their space,” Kuster said.

But the added control that comes with the new rooms brings with it the additional responsibility of taking care of the living space.

Drakesboro senior James Reed estimated he spent an additional $100 on furnishings for his bathroom compared to what he would have normally spent on items for his dorm room last year in Pearce-Ford Tower.

“I think it’s worth it,” Reed said of the added expenses like shower curtains and toilet paper.

The buildings, even with all of their new features, were not free from the glitches that accompany the opening of a new facility, said Alisha Brewer, a resident assistant in Southwest.

Brewer, who has been living in Southwest since Aug. 1, said the phone lines were down so frequently earlier this month that she relied on her cellular phone to make and receive calls.

She said she also had to take a week’s worth of cold showers when the hot water went out in the building.

“It’s a little aggravating, but in in the end it’s going to be beautiful,” Brewer said.

While the majority of interior work on Northeast and Southwest is complete, Kuster said crews are still at work on three exterior projects, including the plaza, four bus stop pavilions and new mansard roofs. The mansard roofs are false roofs and will serve as ornamental pieces for the buildings.

Landscaping work around the buildings and in the plaza area is expected to be completed by the end of October, Ransdell said.

Northeast and Southwest will be officially opened at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3 p.m. on Aug. 29.

Hollan Holm can be reached at [email protected]