On Monday students participated in a special room draw to live in the renovated Evans Residence Hall when it reopens this winter. Currently housing only 112 students, Evans will be home to 151 residents next year.
Students returning from study abroad programs in the winter were given priority in the draw, although anyone who wanted to live in Evans when it reopens was allowed to participate. Students were able to choose from singles, doubles, triples, quads and one quint.
Swathi Varanasi ’14 drew a quad with three friends, two of whom will also be abroad in the fall.
“There were so many more people at the draw than I expected,” she said. “There was a line all the way outside of Boliou. I was surprised that everyone got a room at the end.”
Swathi said she is excited to live in Evans when she returns from studying abroad in Ecuador in the winter.
“I’m super interested to see what the building’s going to look like.”
According to head of Facilities Steve Spehn, Evans will feature many improvements.
“The renovated building will have new public restrooms, new lounges and kitchens on every floor, a game room on the ground floor, study rooms and a new laundry room,” he said.
Perhaps most importantly, however, the new Evans will have a completely re-designed floor plan that “eliminates the current column layout and establisheshallways and corridors.”
Spehn said Residential Life wished to eliminate the columns to create better floor communities.
“People were isolated in the columns,” he explained. “It was hard for the RAs and Res Life to manage programmatically.”
While the building’s floor plan will look very different, Spehn said the renovation will maintain the “original spirit of the building.”
“We are keeping all the original woodwork, and the building’s features will be replicated to look historic,” he said. “The design will change but the building will keep its original character.”
While much work will be done on the inside of the building, the outside will remain virtually unchanged, apart from a new main entrance at the front of the building.
In addition to these aesthetic and functional enhancements, the renovation will update the facilities in Evans.
“Evans is one of the last residence halls on campus to be heated by steam heat,” Spehn said. “This makes it very hard for students to control the temperature in their rooms. In addition to new heating systems, the new dorm will have all new plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems.”
The new Evans will also contain an elevator, making it wheelchair accessible, and the dorm will finally receive sprinklers and a new fire alarm system.
‘This is our chance to turn back the clock on Evans,” Spehn said. “It was built in 1927, and there have been no major renovations on it until now. Everything is tiny, crowded, and cramped and the facilities are in desperate need of an update.”
The College has discussed renovating Evans for several decades but did not seriously consider it until a few years ago, when a project committee was formed and a renovation plan submitted to the Board of Trustees for consideration.
The project committee, consisting of two student representatives, Vice President and Treasurer Fred Rogers, Associate Dean of Students Julie Thornton, Dean of Students Hudlin Wagner and Residential Life Director Steve Wisener as well as Residential Life and Facilities staff, has been working to plan the renovation. Their goals have been to provide a community more similar to other residence halls, to increase the capacity of the building, to improve facilities and to address issues of safety and accessibility.
“The project committee has been working very hard on the design and has been meeting weekly with the architect and contractor to try to anticipate every problem and question that will come up,” Spehn said. “I am very confident that the renovation will go smoothly.”
Overall, he said, “the new Evans will be more comparable to other halls on campus. I think students will be really happy with the renovation.”