This coming summer, Alumni and Lankenau Halls will be receiving updates to their first floor common areas.
“The thought behind the renovations of these lounges and lobbies is to update the look of these 1960s buildings to something that's a bit more 21st century,” Assistant Dean of Students for Residential Life Ryan Blevins said.
The plans for the renovations were originally set to take place last summer, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic the project was put on hold.
“Last academic year in the fall we started building a plan with Facilities Management to renovate the lobbies and lounges in Alumni hall and Lankenau hall. We even had contractors come out, we had engineers come out, we were looking at the space we had plans drawn up and then the pandemic hit,” Blevins said. “Everything ground to a halt...the money needed to be shifted towards student needs and not necessarily a facilities need.”
Going into the 2020-2021 academic year, Facilities Management (FM) had enough in their budget to renovate one building, but according to Blevins, they have since determined that the budget was large enough to cover both buildings.
To help with the costs of the renovations, FM applied for a discretionary funds grant through Student Senate. The grant proposal requested $14,875 for Lankenau and $15,208 for Alumni.
“This was specifically for furniture and it was to help them get exactly what they wanted so it's just a little extra money because they didn't have enough in their budget to get exactly what they wanted,” Discretionary Funds Committee (DFC) Chair Gwyneth Hoeksema said.
The proposal was passed by the DFC, Senate Finance Committee and Student Senate as a whole.
“Since we had enough money to do it, everybody was very receptive to it especially because we’ve all had that experience of living in the freshman dorm. They are a little old, they're a little dark in there so this is really going to brighten up those spaces and make it much more friendly,” Hoeksema said.
The renovations will follow the recent renovation of the Alumni entrance that took place last fall.
“We wanted to kind of keep that ball rolling if you will,” Blevins said.
According to Blevins, Lankenau will be completely gutted out and redesigned. However, Alumni presented some structural challenges.
“In Alumni hall the challenge is that there is a lot of brick and behind that brick is supporting building structures, weight bearing supports, we can't take those out,” Blevins said. “It will look different, we’re just taking two different stylistic approaches to both buildings.”
The renovations will create more open spaces to encourage students to gather, dependent on COVID-19, and create a sense of community.
“We really wanted it to be a community place,” Blevins said. “Community is really the heart and soul of Valpo and your residence hall community, especially your first year on campus, is like your people, these are the people that you are going to be hanging out with for the next four years.”
The renovations will allow for more spaces for students to hang out and participate in activities.
“I want to bring things out of the basement and put them up on the floors. In Alumni, we're taking all the gaming equipment that's in the basement and bringing it upstairs to the first floor lobby area,” Blevins said.
According to Hoeksema, the renovations will allow the residence halls to be a more welcoming space.
“It's just very nice, colorful and modern so our freshmen can feel much more welcome,” Hoeksema said. “Everyone on my committee was very excited about the prospect of having renovations in those spaces. We talked about how we’ve seen renovations all over campus in academic buildings but to see those renovations in dorms and residence halls is very welcoming.”
Lankenau Hall and Brandt Hall will remain first year buildings. However, according to Blevins, Alumni will most likely be single rooms to both first years and upperclassmen next year, similar to how it is this school year. The plans for this are still being finalized.
While there are no current plans to update the other floors of Alumni and Lankenau, Blevins is hopeful that if funds become available, the bathrooms and bedrooms would be the next to get updated.
“Residence halls are definitely a priority for us in terms of facilities management. We want to make sure that we’re having a comfortable living environment for our students. They [FM] have been great partners to work with to develop a game plan going forward,” Blevins said.
Lankenau renovations are set to start the day after the graduation ceremony, May 17 and Alumni renovations will begin in early June.