Remodel of Babcock necessitates adjustment

During the course of this school year, the campus will witness the realization of a plan long in the making: the renovation of Babcock Hall.

Last fall, the wheels of the renovation process were set in motion when the Offices of Student Affairs, Residence Life and Facilities presented a joint renovation proposal to the Funding Allocation Committee (FAC), which subsequently approved it.

“Students, Residence Life, Academic and Administrative Facilities and the Dean of Students had been advocating for a renovation plan for years,” said Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life Christie Bing Kr√§cker. “The campus as a whole wanted to see the renovation of Babcock occur and finally the necessary pieces aligned and we are on our way.”

To prepare for the renovation, Kr√§cker spent the last few months meeting with the project’s various participants, including on-campus organizations like Student Affairs and off-campus contributors such as engineers and architects.

It was necessary to develop a renovation plan that satisfied students, addressed the building’s structural problems and respected budget constraints.

To learn what students generally wished to see accomplished by the building’s renovation, Kr√§cker met with several students on various occasions during the spring.

The students she spoke with articulated their desires for better lighting and an improved kitchen design that would provide enough space for programming. In addition to pointing out its faults, however, the students also pointed out some of Babcock’s positive aspects.

They informed her that they wanted some of the residence hall’s features, like the dining hall and the hardwood floors in the dorm rooms, to remain after the renovation.

“The students overwhelmingly wanted to keep the ‘feel’ of Babcock,” said Kr√§cker, “so the renovation plan will not be shocking changes, but recapturing of the building’s beauty.”

Kr√§cker intends to address topics dealing with the building’s aesthetics, like the future colors of the walls and furniture, when she once again meets with students in the coming weeks.

Should there be no need to draw from the contingency fund, Kräcker wishes to use the extra money to add other improvements such as a patio located behind the building.

“Working with a renovation plan really means having several options in your back pocket to be ready when opportunities arise,” she said.

While all removable items were taken out of Babcock late this summer, the actual renovation will begin in the coming weeks.

A schedule of the renovation, developed by the engineering firm undertaking the project, will be released to students as the renovation commences. Kräcker emphasized that the construction Babcock will undergo is not so much geared toward aesthetics as it is toward utility.

Aspects like plumbing and electricity will be the main focus of the renovation, which is currently projected to end in late July of 2009.

However, though the actual construction has not yet started, Babcock’s impending renovation has already significantly impacted campus.

With the International Program, which is usually located in Babcock, temporarily relocated to Andrews Hall, Residence Life has been under pressure to find available housing for students.

Kräcker noted that the impact of the housing shortage is especially evident in the first-year class. For example, Residence Life made the decision to double a couple of rooms in Wagner in order to accommodate approximately eight first-years.

To help the affected students maximize space in their rooms, Residence Life provided them with new lofting furniture and has plans to install new jacks this week.

Despite the complications of Babcock’s renovation, Kr√§cker remains optimistic about the final outcome of the project.

“We think that many of the issues raised by students in the past years will be addressed by the renovation plan and we will do everything we can to make the building a beautiful community when we open the doors again next year,” she said. “I want to have the students engaged and really celebrate the opening. I am very hopeful that I will get to collaborate with the International Program that is housed in the building to create a lovely environment that students will be proud to call home.”