by Carolina VonKampen
Several buildings on campus underwent renovations this summer, including Ruth A Hall, Weller Hall, the P.E. Building and Link Library.
Ruth A Hall
Ruth A Hall received an “extreme makeover,” according to Gene Brooks, vice president of student affairs and athletics. The building’s electrical and air conditioning systems were upgraded. Renovations also included updating all student rooms, restrooms and lobby spaces.
A kitchen was cut due to the high cost of construction during the summer.
“We have the ability to add it in the future, but we felt the other improvements that were made were much more critical,” Dave Kumm, executive VP CFO/COO, said in an email interview.
Installing air conditioning in residence halls is a priority, according to Brooks.
“When we have 90 plus degree temperatures and high humidity, it can be absolutely miserable in those non-air-conditioned residence halls in the fall,” Brooks said.
According to Brooks, students expect and deserve a nice, clean place to live, and Concordia aims to provide it for them.
“This is a home-away-from-home for the vast majority of our undergraduate population,” Brooks said. “[The renovations are] part of enhancing the overall residential experience, and having a nice, clean, well-kept, upgraded residence hall is a huge benefit and blessing to our students.”
The updates also help the university with the recruitment and retention of students.
“If you have to live in a slum-like residence hall, that might be enough to make you not want to come back or be upset about a requirement to live on campus,” Brooks said.
Although a few minor details will be finished in Ruth A after students return, the renovations are complete, and the hall is open.
The completion of Ruth A leaves Ruth B Hall as Concordia’s only un-air-conditioned residence hall. Ruth B will be updated in the summer of 2016.
Concordia began a two-summer project to renovate and address code issues in the Weller auditorium/chapel. This summer, the renovations focused on safety. Sprinklers and a fire alarm system were installed.
Code issues related to fire-rated walls and updating the elevator were addressed. Although it was not by design plan, a new wall was built on the second floor for firewall protection.
The Center for Liturgical Art designed new light fixtures to enhance the lighting above the baptismal font and entrance to the chapel.
Donor funding made it possible to complete the final renovations of the P.E. Building. The renovations include football coaches’ offices, hallways, updated and ADA-compliant restrooms, renovated main entries to the building, updated windows and new paint and tile. The gym was repainted, and Kalwall windows were installed to bring natural light into the gym. The exterior of the building was updated to match the Walz facility.
The goal is to hold the first JV volleyball game in the gym on September 4. The building will be in use by the beginning of the semester.
Link Library received a new circulation desk. The desk replaced the 35-year-old circulation desk, which was beat-up and outdated.
“Over time much has changed in the ways libraries work; the new fixtures will better fit the way we do things now,” Director of Library Services Phil Hendrickson said in an email interview. “A rough-looking, outdated desk sends the wrong message to library visitors. A new desk with a fresh design reinforces visually the fact that libraries are ready to meet the needs of today’s students and faculty.”
The library renovations were supported by a donor.
A few sidewalks were also added around the library to match student walking paths.
Several updates were made to other buildings on campus during the summer.
The exterior of Janzow Campus Center was painted. Chartwells Dining received new equipment and floors in the kitchen and dish room area.
The air conditioning in Streiter Hall was updated, new exhaust hoods were installed in the Science Building chemistry labs and the Resident Hall Coordinators apartments in Esther and Dorcas have been updated.
This fall, Concordia will update the long-term master plan for major projects on campus. The campus master plan looks ahead over the next twenty years and is updated every five years. Some factors that affect if a building needs renovations include an assessment from Buildings and Grounds and the age of the building.
“We strategically plan out when we are going to do major upgrades,” Kumm said in an email. “We are always working to keep our facilities in good shape.”
Many of the buildings that underwent major updates this summer had work done on them within the past couple of years.
However, not all projects identified within a campus master plan get completed.
“It’s quite the challenge to try to do a project that big over the summer months,” Brooks said.
Often, projects are driven through fundraising, which provides the needed cash.
This summer, the renovations in Weller, the P.E. Building and the library were all supported by donor funds. The rest of the renovations were funded by operating capital set aside for projects such as residence halls.
Next summer, Weller will be further renovated, and Ruth B Hall will be updated.