Rodgers would be among changes

If the architectural and consulting firm hired by the Office of Residence Life completed its study today, they would enlarge, lighten and diversify the on-campus housing options offered to students.

According to Michael Kuchta, an associate with Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas, adding more natural light in hallways and lounges in addition to providing some larger living spaces and more choices in room layouts are some things that could be recommended as part of the 15-year Residence Life Master Plan the company will propose.

Also, exposed pipes on the first floor of Rodgers and the condition of the building, especially the restrooms, are things that the study should address.

“There are a lot of rooms that are a lot alike on this campus,” Kuchta said. “It’s great that there are different [learning communities], but the basic housing stock, I think, needs to change and offer more diverse options for more diverse needs.” With offices in Massachusetts, Virginia and Florida, the firm had representatives on campus last week to tour residence halls and compile a list of preliminary findings. The firm, which has also developed a master plan for Kent State University, has been specializing in student housing for 15 years.

According to Linda Newman, executive director of Residence Life, it was clear that this was the kind of company needed to help the University improve and create living facilities that are designed for academic work as well as relaxation.

“It was clear to us that Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas had spent a lot of time learning about student learning,” she said. “[They] actually understood the academic world that we work in and how students live and learn … they understood what it was that we thought we were trying to do here.”

With this experience, it’s clear to see that the residence halls, overall, do have a lot of positive aspects, Kuchta said.

“On the whole I think that the buildings have been pretty well maintained,” he said. “It’s clear that every year there’s been an investment of money in upgrading things. The problem is that they’re 30-40 year-old buildings and there’s only so much you can do at a certain point, without gutting the building and starting over, to make them feel new and fresh.”

In fact, the living environments at the University are far from the worst they’ve seen, according to Kuchta.

“We’ve gone to schools where they’ve still had the original thick orange shag carpeting from the 1970s in their student lounges,” he said. “BG is actually in much better shape than a lot of other schools.”

But the University is not the only institution ready for some revamping. Remodeling and improvements to on-campus living have taken on a sense of competition nationwide.

” … BG is not alone in facing the challenges it does,” Kuchta said. “A lot of universities are in the same boat as BG is with regard to having facilities that may have been maintained but are still aging facilities and are, to some degree, out of touch with what students are asking for today.”

One of the things consultants hope will be revealed in the Residence Life housing survey, which they crafted with the help of Residence Life staff, is whether or not there is a market for more suite and apartment-style living facilities on campus.

But the firm knows that money is an issue when considering such expansions. Consultants will offer a series of discussions and presentations as early as February to meet with students, Kuchta said.

“When you have a system that has 7,100 students living on campus and multiple buildings, it takes a long time to swallow [the financial burden],” Kuchta said. “There is no magic pot of money to fund these projects and we understand that, and that the pot of money is the student room rates. We are talking about, over time, expending considerable resources and those resources coming from students, it’s important for us to talk about this issue with as many people as possible.”

The challenge, Kuchta said, ensuring that any recommendations made by the firm work with– not against–the University’s Master Plan, released earlier in the semester.

“One of the things a master plan can help you do is avoid mistakes,” he said. “We want to make sure that the short-term decisions support the long-term decisions.”

But the firm is up to the challenge, Kuchta said.

“We just enjoy the work,” he said. “There’s more learning per square foot than in most places as an architect.”

Editor’s Note: To take the Residence Life housing survey, visit: and click on the “Shape the Future at BGSU Housing Survey” link. At the conclusion of the survey, students may enter a random drawing for Target gift certificates in varying amounts.