University spends nearly $20 million on housing renovations

    Take a bird’s eye look at Northwestern’s Evanston campus and it may seem like one massive construction site. The City of Evanston’s current work on Sheridan Road is perhaps the most visible, but Northwestern is also concluding its own massive summer renovations.

    Nearly $20 million went into housing renovations this summer.

    Photo by Rowena Li / North by Northwestern

    A bigger Elder Hall

    One of the biggest projects was the building of bridges connecting Elder Hall to Hinman-Lincoln, creating one freshman quad dorm — with new furnishings, carpeting and an elevator. Next the dorm will see a common entrance and more common rooms, said William Banis, vice president of student affairs.

    Beyond the physical changes to the freshman quad, the community structure has also changed in Elder with the addition of Northwestern’s first faculty-in-residence.

    “We decided to use the Elder as our demonstration project, the pilot program, for the creation of residential communities that would include a live-in faculty member in addition to a student community assistant,” said Banis.

    The project will continue through fall quarter, due to a construction workers strike in July and problems with utility lines.

    A new café on south campus

    Construction is expected to continue elsewhere on campus. Willard’s dining hall has been reformatted as Fran’s Café, the Lisa’s Café of south campus.

    It’s an answer to students’ requests for a south campus location for late-night dining, said Weinberg senior Anil Wadhwani, chair of the Undergraduate Budget Priorities Committee, which helped push for the new space. Unlike Lisa’s, however, Fran’s is only open at night from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.

    Weinberg sophomore Adeze Wilford and her friend Communication sophomore Amanda Summey went to Fran’s on its opening night Tuesday because they had missed dining hall hours and wanted food without having to walk to the Great Room or Lisa’s.

    “The lighting in here makes it kind of darker than Lisa’s,” Summey said. “But it’s not quite as homey as the Great Room. It’s more modernized and I like it.”

    Banis said a patio and a second entrance will be added outside Fran’s.

    University hopes for LEED silver rating for Rogers House

    Down the street from Fran’s Café, the Rogers House underwent major restoration and is on the path to become the university’s first residence to receive a silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, an award given for energy efficient architecture.

    “Almost all of our new construction, even if we don’t go after LEED certification, we’re certainly going after very strong conservation measures,” Banis said. He noted that the university is investing in new plumbing and lighting fixtures. He said these measures, among others, will reduce the school’s carbon footprint.

    Other dorms that experienced makeovers include Bobb-McCulloch, the College of Cultural & Community Studies, Chapin Residential College, Seabury Hall and the Englehart Graduate Residence. The Evans Scholars house was also expanded and updated with funding from their national foundation.

    Norris phone service improves

    The UBPC worked to bring improved cell phone service to Norris. Previously, the student center was nearly a dead zone for some visitors — especially those using AT&T service. Better reception was a key priority to the UBPC, Wadhwani said.

    “Before you always had to call someone before you got in the building to find them. It’s a lot easier now because if I’m somewhere in Norris and need to call someone I don’t need to walk all the way out,” said Alaya Turnbough, a Communication sophomore.

    Searle Hall, home of Health Services, began its expansion in fall 2008. It is expected to finish its renovations by this fall, as is Harris Hall, which began in February 2009, according to the Facilities Management website.

    The UBPC will release a poll in the next few months to collect suggestions for other changes to campus, Wadhwani said.


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