The future of the university’s weathered facilities
Russell Hall’s dimly-lit staircase leads to an empty, worn out hallway. An old wooden door opens to a small room filled with outdated furniture. The communal bathrooms, which rest on each side of the hallways, were infested with cockroaches for the first couple months of the fall semester.
The university has recently built or renovated many new buildings across campus. This includes the the Caesar Rodney Dining & Residence complex, South Academy Residence Hall and renovations to the Russell Dining Hall and the Harrington Commons.
Some of the older buildings on campus, however, like Russell, Lane and Thompson, the Christiana Towers and the buildings on both North and South Green, have not seen the same treatment. Tori Saxton, a senior studying psychology at the university, lived in Russell during her freshman year. She said that is was very difficult to live in a dorm with no air conditioning, especially during the hotter months at the beginning and at the end of the year.
The Towers are also some of the older buildings on campus. This is Saxton’s second year living at the Towers and she said that, while she likes them overall because of the views and the large community, there are a lot of things wrong with them.
“The furniture is really outdated which is really ugly and not comfortable at all,” Saxton said. “The kitchen is very small which makes it impossible to cook in it.”
Kaitlyn Craig, a senior, lived in Dickinson the first semester of her freshman year. She said she hated living in Dickinson because the rooms would get too hot, there were not enough showers and space was limited. Craig said that Rodney and Dickinson should have been closed a lot earlier than they were.
Peter Krawchyk is the vice president for facilities, real estate and auxiliary services for the university. Part of his job is looking at if new buildings should be added to campus and what buildings need to be renovated.
Krawchyk said that buildings are rarely demolished on college campuses. In order to demolish a building, it has to be in such poor condition that it is more expensive to renovate it than to build a replacement.
A study conducted over the last five years took a comprehensive look at the condition of facilities on campus. It looks into things like how old or new the air conditioning systems or the lights are and how much it would cost to renovate them, and was presented to the Board of Trustees.
“We’re beginning this long program and really going into and beginning to renovate a lot of our buildings with this new data that we have,” Krawchyk said.
Krawchyk discussed some of the plans already in place to build new buildings on campus and to renovate some older residence halls. The university is beginning to look at whether a dining hall needs to be added to South Campus. They are planning a new residence hall west of Warner and Robinson. There are also plans to renovate the restrooms in Sypherd Hall.
One of the difficulties with renovating dining halls is that, due to the amount of students living in them, the work has to be done over the summer, Krawchyk said. When Rodney and Dickinson closed, the university did not have a new building for the students, causing them to increase triples.
The total renovation budget in 2013 was $3 million. The budget has fluctuated a lot since then and the total renovation budget for 2017 is $15 million. The total renovation budget includes laboratories, facilities renewal/renovation and minor capital improvement and equipment.
“[The renovation budget] is decided by the board of trustees and the reason it is going up is because of this deferred maintenance,” Krawchyk said. “By us performing this study about the condition of our buildings we are demonstrating that we really need to make additional investments…the trustees have agreed to allocate more money for that purpose.”
Krawchyk said that the main goal of the university in the coming years is to bring new buildings closer to the center of campus and to continue to renovate and expand the university.