Workers began renovations on a campus residence hall during the summer.
The entire seventh floor of Walker Hall dormitory was renovated during the summer while the dorm was empty. The rooms on that floor also received new furniture.
Michael Burns, director of housing and residence life, said the plans to renovate Walker Hall were put in place before he took the position in 2015, but the dorm was specifically selected because of its impact on incoming and current students.
“It is the one that’s been the greatest need and has the largest impact on first-year students, as well as recruiting and satisfaction of students,” he said.
It also was planned for renovations to improve aesthetic design, though it already has had repairs to plumbing, air conditioning and facilities, according to MediaOCU.com archives.
The entirety of Walker will continue to be renovated from the top-down, beginning with dorm rooms and bathrooms before moving onto the common areas or any other spaces in the building.
Renovations on the currently vacant C Hall of the sixth floor are expected to begin within the next two weeks, though the timeline is not definite. If renovations on that hall are completed before the summer, students of another hall will be asked to move into the new rooms so their vacated hall can begin renovation immediately, said Stephanie George, residence hall director for Walker.
Burns said the original plan was to complete all Walker renovations by 2020, but estimating a time is difficult when factoring in the differing workloads of maintenance employees between the school year and the summer. During the academic year, their priorities can be focused to one place, whereas, during the summer, their responsibilities are more widespread, he said.
Burns said the presence of student residents during the school year also complicates the process.
“We got one floor done over the summer, but figuring out what it takes to get it done during the school year is a little challenging,” he said. “So the phase we’re in now is figuring out how long it takes to do one while people are in the building versus when it’s vacant. Our hope is to do it quickly, but we just don’t know for sure.”
The cost of Walker Hall’s renovations is unknown. The seventh floor was completed with the help of an outside contractor and maintenance employees, but all the renovations to take place during the school year will be done internally, costing the university less money. It is not yet decided if a contractor will be employed again when construction carries over into the summer. Burns said his estimate of the cost is $4 million.
Samuel McFerron, mass communications freshman and seventh-floor resident of Walker, said the seventh floor dorms are comfortable to live in, despite a malfunction in the showers.
“A big problem is that a lot of people have cold showers, and they can’t get it to go warm,” he said. “Other than that, they’re really nice.”