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Housing, dining to begin long-term renovation plan

By Matt Levy
On September 27, 2010

  • Freshman Sarah Soltan receives Mexican food Monday night at Harris Dining Hall. SAMANTHA LUDINGTON | The Miami Student

Miami University students should prepare to see some changes in residence and dining halls in the upcoming years.

Miami's long-range housing plan, a 15 to 20-year project designed to upgrade, renovate and construct new on-campus residence halls, specifically targets the residence halls on MET Quad, Academic Quad and Havighurst Hall in its initial phase of operations.

The closure of two existing dining halls and the creation of one large replacement is also included in the plan.

According to Robert Bell, a project manager for the Physical Facilities Department, one of the primary upgrades in phase one is the introduction of fire-sprinkler systems in Morris, Emerson, Tappan and Havighurst halls.

"Those buildings do not have fire suppression systems and are not scheduled to be replaced until at least 15 years from today," Bell said. "We chose to put sprinklers in them now so we wouldn't have to wait that long."

According to Bell, installing new sprinkler systems and residence hall upgrades is just part of phase one.

"The master plan calls for two new dining locations," Bell said. "The one we're moving with first will be on Maple Street near the Center for the Performing Arts where the marching band currently practices."

According to Bell, the new dining facility will replace the dining halls located within Scott and Hamilton halls and will serve students kiosk-style, similar to Haines Food Court in the Shriver Center or Dividend$ in the Farmer School of Business.

Bell said the plans for the new dining facility are still in their infancy and it will be a while before it is constructed.

According to Bell, plans are already underway for what will happen after the closure of Scott and Hamilton dining halls.

"We will be using the existing facilities' spaces when we renovate those dormitories for swing space," Bell said. "We will need space for sororities to move into when those residence halls are being renovated."

According to Bell, long-range plans also call for Alexander Dining Hall to eventually be replaced.

Larry Fink, assistant vice president for housing and auxiliaries, said he is anticipating the arrival of the dining hall.

"(The new dining location) will help us improve the efficiency of our operations," Fink said. "It will offer students exciting new dining concepts."

According to Fink, the new facility is being designed based upon student feedback at existing dining locations.

"The kiosks will place nutritional information closer to the point of service," Fink said.

Fink said the new dining facility will be multi-story with space for 90 student rooms on the upper floors.

According to Bell, Bishop Hall is also scheduled to be renovated in the coming years.

"For all the buildings we are renovating, we will put in new electrical systems, heating and air conditioning systems and add fire sprinkler systems," Bell said. "In Bishop, some of the common spaces will be reconfigured and the whole building will get new finishes, new paint and new materials on the floors and ceilings."

Bell said the schedule of renovations for Bishop Hall is still being determined.

Bell also said student housing will reclaim the space on the lower level of the building currently occupied by offices.

Senior Corey Stevens said he supports the initiative, but maintains changes should not be made at the historical expense of the buildings.

"I like that Bishop Hall has wooden doors everywhere except for the fire doors," Stevens said. "While the fire doors are necessary, they detract from the overall ambiance of the building."

Stevens has mixed feelings about the need for air conditioning in Miami's older residence halls.

"They're not required upgrades," Stevens said. "With the university going through the financial hardship that it is, I don't really see it worth it spending the extra money. However, if the cost is minimal in relation to the entire project, then why not?"

According to Fink, it is too early in the planning and design stage of the project to give exact costs.

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