Friday, March 8, 2013

Seismic renovations to rock Stuen and Ordal

by Kelsey Mejlaender, Copy Editor
Stuen and Ordal halls will soon receive major face-lifts.

Built in the 60s, the halls have not "received any major attention" and there have only been minor renovations, Tom Huelsbeck, executive director of Residential Life, said

Students have noticed.

Darien Upshaw, a sophomore and Ordal resident who lived in Stuen last year, said he spoke to a former student who lived in Stuen about 40 years ago. "They pretty much described what my room was like last year," Upshaw said.

Regarding Ordal, Upshaw spoke of the basement and bathrooms. The basement is "just creepy, even when the light’s on and it’s midday," Upshaw said. He also said "the bathrooms are crazy," describing them as "pretty outdated" with cracked and worn tiles.

Sophomore Kelli Blechschmidt, a resident of Stuen, said the lighting in Stuen is "atrocious" and she would fix that.

"I think that it [Stuen] has like good bones, because of when it was built, and it’s a very sturdy building," Blechschmidt said, but "the aesthetics are no longer there and are very torn and threadbare."

That will change starting this summer.

Stuen Hall will be closed for one year, from June 2013 to June 2014, for the construction. Ordal will remain open to provide housing during the academic year, but will close the summer of 2014 to receive the renovations, though this is subject to change.

In an email sent out to residents of both halls, Huelsbeck explained Stuen’s construction will take longer so the university can avoid paying contractors extra for double shifts and weekend work. As the smallest hall on campus, Stuen’s temporary closure during the
school year will not lead to a housing shortage.

Despite the advanced years of both residence halls, updating the facilities and rooms is not the primary goal.

The federal government awarded Pacific Lutheran University with grants to ensure the residence halls are secure in case of earthquakes. "The grants are why we’re doing the renovations," Mercy Daramola, Stuen and Ordal’s resident director, said.

Further renovations are still undecided because "the baseline is the seismic improvements," Huelsbeck said.

What the additional renovations will entail is still tentative. "We can be quite certain there will be fresh paint, fresh carpet throughout the building," Huelsbeck said. "We know we’re going to be doing major work in the bathrooms."

Concerning cost, Huelsbeck said the federal government is covering three-quarters of the seismic renovations. The university will pay for all other renovations.

Both Daramola and Huelsbeck expect occupancy in Stuen and Ordal to go up following the construction. Daramola said once the renovations are complete, she expects students will "want to be in a building that’s going to have a lot of nice things in it."

Huelsbeck said occupancy in Harstad jumped after it received renovations, and residence halls become "more attractive to students" with renovations and upgrades.