The Parmelee and Braiden projects cost approximately $13 million each, and are financed by room and board revenues.
“Our goal is that every penny that comes in helps all the pennies that go out, so we have a balanced budget each year,” Miyamoto said.
Braiden Hall was selected for renovations this year because, like Parmelee, it is a “keeper,” Miyamoto said. The dorms’ locations and suite-style rooms make them popular with students, and their structures are stable enough to support renovations. Rooms in the newly updated Parmelee were in high demand this year, according to Miyamoto.
“We had some students move into Parmelee who thought it was a new residence hall,” Miyamoto said. “Parents are blown away–they can’t believe it’s the same building.”
Braiden’s lobby was completed by this year’s August move-in, and achieved part of the goal to provide more student lounge space and improve the interior and exterior.
“It was a lot different last year. In some ways I think it’s better overall, although the construction is kind of annoying,” said Christian Mast, a junior psychology major. “There’s more open room, it seems upgraded, I guess, and a little bit more lively.”
Renovating an existing building is a sustainable avenue, according to Miyamoto, and 90 percent of Braiden’s original structure was retained. New heating and cooling systems, energy-efficient windows and better insulation improve sustainability.
Additionally, construction crews are building a fourth floor which will include 120 additional beds, according to Miyamoto.
When sophomore equine science and animal sciences double major Rebecca Sonn, who lived in Braiden last year, saw the dorm’s updates, she had one question: “Where was this when we lived here?”
“All I know is that it is absolutely beautiful now,” Sonn said. “It sucks that we missed out on the renovations, but at the same time it’s an honor to be the last to live in a non-renovated Braiden. [My friends and I] have so much history there.”
Unlike Braiden and Parmelee, older dorms like Newsom and Allison will be completely replaced by 2020, although a specific timeline has not been outlined, according to Miyamoto. Their structures do not support extensive renovation, and students tend to prefer suite-style rooms instead of current community bathrooms.
“That side of campus is rapidly growing, and [renovation] might not make sense later,” Miyamoto said. “We have to factor in location, wiring, structure, and room type into whether or not it makes sense to maintain it.”
Inevitably construction produces inconveniences, although the crews work to minimize noise and disruptions by halting heavy construction by 5 p.m., according to Miyamoto. Most of the intrusive projects, such as creating new elevator shafts and some landscaping, were completed over the summer when the building was offline.
“We hope the opportunity to be the first students to live in the newly-renovated side of the hall with the fourth floor lofts during spring semester is a fair trade,” Miyamoto said.
Housing and Dining learned helpful lessons during the Parmelee construction that has allowed Braiden’s renovation with the same construction crew to progress more quickly and smoothly, according to Miyamoto.
This time students will have even better notification and resources, especially as the semester move approaches.
“Honestly, it wasn’t that bad. The only stress was having to move our stuff in the middle of finals week,” said Kendall Umetsu, a sophomore English education major who returned to live in Parmelee. “Otherwise, construction didn’t make a difference at all.”
Unlike Parmelee, where there was a lottery to live on the fourth floor, members of each floor, largely composed of learning communities, will remain together when they transfer to the north side of the building.
“It was worth it overall. We were first to live in the new dorms and got to experience it first,” Umetsu said. “It’s definitely worth it to pay a little extra to live in suite style rooms, especially because they’re brand spanking new.”
Politics Beat Reporter Kate Winkle can be reached at email@example.com.