In a few short months, the first floor lobbies of East, West, and North Hall, as students know them, will be no more. Every inch of the corridor and lounge space between the front and back entrances, where students enter and exit the residential halls, will be jazzed-up with new furniture, paint and a variety of other furnishings, including the long-anticipated student kitchenette.
The “lounge remodel,” as it is termed by architectural firm, is scheduled to begin the week before Thanksgiving and wrap up in the waning days of Christmas break. According to David Weaver, Director of UAA Housing, Dining, and Conference Services, each of the three remodels will cost approximately $200,000, totaling just over $600,000 for the entire project.
“The idea is that we’ll just add an element of variety and add an amenity that students might want to program around and create a sense of camaraderie among students,” Weaver said of the remodel.
A computer-generated rendering of the space shows a sleekly-designed area that looks nothing like the current one. Porcelain tiles, soft seating, high-top tables and green walls give the room the look of a modern café. The redesigned lobby will open up more space for students to lounge, or just pass in and out of the building. The check-in counter, where guests are required to check-in during evening and night hours, will be moved across the hallway.
Resident Hall Association President Sam Gonzalez was one of the student leaders that placed this project high their list of priorities for changes to the residential campus. Gonzalez was vice president of RHA when the student advocacy group proposed the upgrades.
“We had it kind of separated into two ideas: the kitchenette was one idea; the lobby remodel was another,” Gonzalez said. Eventually, RHA combined the two ideas into one, and housing backed the decision.
East Hall resident Savannah Blankenship thinks more space in the lobby is a good idea. “A lot of people end up getting clustered like right at the desk,” Blankenship said. “I know I sit there a lot because a lot of my friends are RAs and it kind of clogs traffic flow sometimes.”
As one would expect, culinary arts students are all for the addition of a kitchenette into the residential halls. Nikaela Walters is a freshman in the culinary arts program and lives in West Hall. She says cooking within the confines of her room just doesn’t cut it. “It’s not easy to make a lot of stuff in a microwave.”
For Weaver, the key is that students have the option to cook if they choose to. “Even if it’s just a simple meal that they had from back home, or cookies or a special Thanksgiving dinner when their parents come to visit them.”
To view the plans for each hall see the following PDFs: