Older UI residence halls scheduled for facelifts


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While University of Iowa officials have broken ground on a new residence hall this past summer, housing officials say there’s still a lot of work to be done on existing dorms.

UI President Sally Mason said she is excited to look at possible renovations for existing residence halls.

“Part of getting that new residence hall underway and completed allows us to then look at existing residence-hall space and say, ‘How can we make this better quality space for students and accommodate the needs of today’s students, as opposed to the needs of students 40 years ago or 50 years ago when these buildings were built?’ ” Mason said during an interview with The Daily Iowan Monday.

UI Director of Housing and Dining Von Stange said it’s important that all residence halls be updated and functioning. Many of the residence halls are 45 to 50 years old, some of the oldest being Stanley and Currier. UI officials have an annual budget of $8 million to renovate existing dorms; a portion of room and board fees students pay make up the fund.

University officials have a 20-year plan is being produced in order to ensure that all necessary renovations are taken care of in the residence halls, Stange said.

Currier is even approaching the 100-year mark, and as the buildings age, it becomes even more important that things are upgraded and replaced, he said.

“We want students to be able to enjoy the residence halls, and if we have 1960s residence halls and we don’t upgrade them, students aren’t going to want to live here,” Stange said.

There are several things on the list for next summer that are pressing concerns in some of the residence halls or projects that have already begun that are scheduled to be finished. Some projects include roof patching and sprinkler installation in Currier and new restrooms, vanity installation, and piping in Slater and Stanley.

Further out, Hillcrest will be the last residence hall to have sprinklers installed, and the Burge Marketplace may eventually have a pulper installed after analyzing the results of the $58,000 pulper recently installed in Hillcrest. If the pulper were to be installed, plans would be made on how to rearrange the kitchen to accommodate one.  

Jeffery Aaberg, director of facilities and operations for UI Housing and Dining, said the least exciting renovations — such as roofing and plumbing — must be taken care of first.

“Those types of things are always front and center,” he said.

Other cosmetic renovations are on the list to be done, following the most pressing renovations, such as painting and new carpeting in rooms and halls.

“Some of the walls look like lunar landings,” Stange said.

Eventually, he said, in Daum, Rienow, and Slater, officials hope to gut out the first floors and create more public space for students to congregate and study.

“Of course, with any good plan we have $10 million worth of projects and $8 million worth of funds,” he said.

Stange said the UI wants students to enjoy living in residence halls because the facilities available may factor into a student’s college choice. The UI wants students to live on campus, not only for their first year, but for a year or two after that as well.

“I believe that students will compare not only academic programs but also housing facilities,” Stange said.

Aaberg said the UI’s mission is to educate students and in a way, the renovating of residence halls is a part of that. Residence halls need to be functioning well so that students aren’t distracted by broken, outdated, or leaking facilities.

“… So you don’t have to focus on your living environment," he said. “So you can focus on school. That is why it is significant, and we take it seriously.”

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