$9.3 million McDonald renovation stays on schedule

Students can look forward to a new and improved McDonald residence hall at the start of the fall 2013 semester.

The $9.3 million renovation is on schedule and is expected to be finished by the time freshmen move in on Aug. 23, said Sarah Waters, director of Residence Life.

“Essentially the objective of this project is to improve the overall condition of the hall,” said Steve Krakoff, vice president of Capital Planning and Design.

A number of amenities are being added to make the hall more attractive for students, Krakoff said.

There will be new furniture for the lounges, modifications to restrooms and new floor to ceiling windows, said Marc Brunner, project architect for design and construction.

The residence hall is undergoing a lot of change this year.

“The bedrooms on the second, third and fourth floor of the east wing are finished,” Waters said.

The rooms have been painted and carpet has been put in, she said.

All the built in furniture was removed and will be replaced with all furniture this summer, including a chest of drawers and wardrobes on wheels, so students can arrange the room how they want, Waters said.

The entrance has been moved to the east side of the building because it is more logical and creates better flow, she said.

“The new lobby will have lots of windows so there will be a lot of natural light, which I think will be refreshing for students,” Waters said.

The current lobby will be replaced with an office suite for the Educators In Context and Community learning community, she said.

The renovation will also provide more housing for students.

Currently, McDonald Hall can house 514 residents, but after the renovation the building will house 750, Waters said.

Some residents have had some issues with the construction since it began.

“First semester it was very loud and it woke me up a lot,” said freshman Meredith Taylor.

Getting in and out of the building, however, hasn’t been affected, Taylor said.

“At first, it was kind of annoying in the morning, but I don’t hear it as much now,” said freshmen Cameron Condrey.

The noise has not been the only problem for some students.

“The stairwells are really dusty and I found a mouse in the hallway once,” said freshmen Adam Zantal.

The University has tried to minimize the impact of the construction on residents.

To help with the noise, workers can’t begin work until 8 a.m., but the noise in question was mostly a problem during demolition, Waters said.

Once the demolition was over the complaints trailed off, she said.

“They would like to be in there working at 6 a.m.,” Waters said.

A new sidewalk was put in since the original was blocked and the students shouldn’t have to walk through the mud, she said.

Despite issues with noise, some residents think the renovation is a good idea.

“I’m really excited because I’m living here next year,” Taylor said.

Condrey disagrees that the renovation is needed but thinks it’s still nice to have.

Once the renovation to McDonald Hall is finished, there will be landscaping improvements made around the building, Krakoff said.

The landscaping will help to improve the aesthetics around the building and create a nicer interior courtyard, he said.

“We are poised to make considerable improvements to campus over the next five to seven years,” Krakoff said.