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Published: Monday, 7/6/2009

Upgrades planned for Bowling Green State University housing, dining halls

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Bowling Green State University is embarking on a 15-year overhaul of its residence and dining halls.
The map identifies the buildings to be renovated. Bowling Green State University is embarking on a 15-year overhaul of its residence and dining halls. The map identifies the buildings to be renovated.
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BOWLING GREEN - The dorms at Bowling Green State University will get a complete overhaul to modernize them for today's students.

The university is planning a substantial 15-year program to renovate residence halls and build more, with the largest push in the next six to seven years, said Steven Krakoff, associate vice president of capital planning and design.

"Over time, most if not all of them will be upgraded," he said.

"We do have older buildings, unfortunately, that need attention, and this will respond to that."

The days of two people to a room with a bathroom down the hall are becoming part of the past. Suite-style rooms and even apartment-style options are becoming increasingly popular for students living on campus.

"It's one of the things you have to do as a modern university to stay current," Mr. Krakoff said.

A draft plan for BGSU includes two phases of development.

The first includes renovation of about 5,700 traditional rooms now on campus, adding 965 suite-style rooms and 535 community-style rooms, and replacing two dining halls - McDonald and Commons.

The second phase targets more upperclassman options with the addition of 250 suite rooms, 654 beds for fraternity and sorority members, and 450 apartments.

The overall project will decrease the number of beds on campus from about 7,200 now, but that is in line with the changing demographic in the state of Ohio, Mr. Krakoff said.

He said the project will cost millions of dollars, but the university is in the planning stages now and costs estimates are not available.

BGSU is looking at creative funding measures and the students' room and board fees will contribute to paying for the upgrades, he said.

"This is a great time to make the investments to meet the needs of our students both in residence halls and academic buildings," Mr. Krakoff said.

"Right now, just given the nature of the economy, construction costs are excellent."

Planning for this overhaul began at the end of 2008, when BGSU organized a team of architects and engineers to study its residence and dining facilities for quality, design, and future use.

Joe Oravecz, associate vice president for student affairs, described the study recently at a BGSU Board of Trustees meeting.

The review revealed that McDonald, Rogers, and Harshman residence halls and the Commons dining hall were in the most need of work in the next five years, he said.

Offenhauer, Founders, and Kohl halls are in the best shape, and all others fall somewhere in between, Mr. Oravecz said.

Offenhaur is the newest residence hall on campus, having gone up in the '70s, and Founders was most recently upgraded in the early '90s.

Next, the university surveyed students to gauge their interests.

About 2,500 students were surveyed in February - half about housing and half about dining services.

An additional 2,600 dining surveys were sent to faculty and staff.

The top features students said they wanted in new campus housing were high-speed Internet access, air-conditioning, private bathrooms, kitchens, and single bedrooms.

And the most important factors the university should keep in mind with housing, according to students, is keeping it affordable and providing modern and attractive living environments.

"It's no secret, I think, that students today are much more demanding and much more discerning," Mr. Krakoff said.

"You're going to see much more creativity and design, more amenities built into the rooms."

Upgrading the residence halls is only one part of a campuswide master plan for BGSU's buildings.

The new Wolfe Center for the Arts and the Stroh Center are under way, as are plans to upgrade the academic buildings, university spokesman Dave Kielmeyer said.

"We're probably going to be entering in the next decade the most aggressive, biggest building phase we've had probably in history," he said.

There will be significant upgrades to all buildings on campus and there already is a push to focus on building maintenance.

The master plan to address all campus buildings probably will be finalized next year.

"The next decade will be a significant one for BGSU," Mr. Kielmeyer said.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

mgilbert@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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