This semester, as students returned to campus, over 70 students moved into the brand-new connector between Dana and Hallowell.
Construction on this project began in Summer of 2014 and continued throughout the 2014-2015 school year. The project connecting the two dorms has created a net gain of 65 beds and 36 rooms, keeping with the College’s plan to increase the size of the student body.
Susan Smythe, ADA Program Coordinator for the college, said that creating more space for students was the reason the college built the connector. “We needed beds,” she said.
However, Smythe added that the college had been considering connecting Dana and Hallowell for some time.
“The trailer [sitting between the two buildings] was a temporary solution 17 years ago,” said Smythe. “There was always thought given to, why weren’t the buildings connected originally?”
The new connector, which is ADA accessible, is the first card-accessible building on campus, and, in addition to the new dorm rooms, also features a brand new common room. The common room has AV capabilities, access to the patios, a grill and a sound system.
Over the summer, the construction crews also completed some renovations in Dana and Hallowell, including changes to the carpeting, bathrooms and the lounges at the end of each hall.
“I know Dana and Hallowell folks are just happy to have a lounge again,” said Karina Beras, Residential Communities Coordinator. “Folks are excited.”
In addition to the new rooms and lounge space, the connector also features an office space for Beras.
“Part of my role is to work with the RAs and to help foster community building and ensure that people are having a good residential experience,” said Beras. “And it was hard to get a pulse on how things are going without physically being in the space.”
Although the building was able to be occupied by students by the date that the College had planned, the construction did not go as smoothly as they had hoped.
“I will not lie and say that we were totally on schedule,” said Smythe. “Last summer, so the first summer of construction, we had very significant delays. We encountered a lot of rock that we were not expecting on site…I think initially we had hoped to be finished earlier in the summer.”
While the building looks completed now, Smythe says there is still work to be done on it.
“The good news is, yes, it’s occupiable and I think working pretty well,” Smythe said. “But the bad news is there is still site work to be done. There’s still a few things happening inside that aren’t entirely finished.”
While some landscaping will not be finished until the Spring, Smythe is confident that the final interior work will be finished by the end of October break.
In the upcoming years, the college will continue to add more space for students and continue to renovate the existing dorms. The bathroom, hallway, lighting and flooring upgrades in Mary Lyons will be completed next summer. The next residential project after that will be “NPPR,” or new PPR, three new buildings adjacent to PPR that will contain 120 beds in suite style units that will give students the option to to opt-out of the meal plan. These dorms are projected to be occupiable by the fall of 2017.
Smythe and Beras stressed that they wish to hear feedback from students about their experiences with the Danawell construction last year in order to ensure that future construction projects are managed in a way that is as least disruptive to students as possible.
“I’d be interested to hear from students what their preference would be, not that I can guarantee that,” said Smythe. “We’re really thinking hard, what can we do better next time? How can we communicate better next time? What really put students over the edge, and how can we avoid that? We really welcome comments and suggestions.”