Hannah Poturalski

With the average residence hall being 61 years old, Miami University hopes to spruce up residence and dining halls around campus to reflect modern styles.

Robert Keller, university architect and campus planner, presented a housing overview and potential future plans at the Jan. 22 board of trustees finance and audit committee meeting.

Keller said this is a “big project” to potentially renovate 37 residence halls, six apartments at Heritage Commons and six dining halls.

“We’ve been working on a plan for keeping housing and dining consistent,” said David Creamer, vice president for finance and business services.

Miami University has commissioned CBT Architects and consultants from Brailsford & Dunlavey to help with building assessments, program, market and site analyses and floor plan prototypes.

For the building assessment, 14 representative buildings, with a range of styles, were chosen from every corner of campus. Conditions such as water proofing, roofing, electrical systems and bathrooms were assessed.

Keller pointed out as an example that Swing Hall, one of the buildings assessed, would need $3.2 million in renovations.

Keller said as part of the program analysis, 30 to 50 question surveys were sent to students and parents.

“We’ve spent a lot of time getting the current understanding of what parents and students expect,” Keller said.

The survey results are being analyzed by Brailsford & Dunlavey.

“Parents were more informative in the comments they were providing than students,” Creamer said.

Pete Miller, associate vice president for auxiliaries, said they received 700 responses from parents.

“Parents didn’t understand why we had great classrooms, but the living conditions where students are spending the majority of time weren’t at that level,” Creamer said.

Keller said there are several areas where new residence halls could be built, including MET quad by the marching band area, Western campus and near Old Manse. Creamer said they will try to replicate the external look of existing buildings.

“There are three to four locations of where we could put new housing,” Keller said. “We haven’t selected which one yet, we’re going through that analysis.”

Keller said one thing Miami has to consider when building new space is that the average square footage needed per student has risen. Creamer said the national average is 180 to 240 square feet, while Miami students average 140 square feet.

Keller said the location of existing utilities will affect where a new building site goes.

One potential plan Keller presented is to build two to three buildings on Western campus that total 420 to 546 beds.

Miller said the average number of beds in a residence hall is 200to 220.

Keller presented the committee an “aggressive timeline” that presents upgrades and renovations being made summer 2010. The timeline stretches to 2028, when all construction would conclude.

Keller said this totals 45 projects across 20 years and he expects to complete them in two to three chunks.

Creamer said after the new construction is completed he fully expects to have some variation in pricing between new and old buildings.

Creamer said there’s potential for some buildings to be torn down.

“It’s inevitable that there will be certain buildings that will be too prohibitive and costly,” Creamer said.

Creamer said he hopes to have a set of recommendations by the April 9 meeting.