Extreme Makeover: Dorm Edition
By Heather Williams
From the beeping of a bulldozer in reverse to the glue-like scent of freshly lacquered paint to the crunch of sawdust beneath work boots, the summer atmosphere at Sears Hall was one of rebirth.
Built in 1975, the largest dorm on campus had never been renovated — until now. The project, dubbed “Extreme Makeover: Dorm Edition 2010,” kicked off at a formal ceremony May 11. Since then, nearly 120 crewmen specializing in more than two dozen trades have left their mark — from electricians and plumbers to painters to two different kinds of roofers and more. With just three months from start to finish, the $4.5 million project is the largest renovation on campus in such a short period of time.
Driving down East Center Street, the building catches the eye with its new gabled roofline. Landscape artists have worked their magic with foliage and greenery lining the outer perimeter, and a new drive-up awning welcomes students and visitors on the building’s east end. But the changes on the outside are only the beginning.
Warm beige walls and slate gray ceramic tile adorn the entry halls, and friends can lounge on plush, comfortable couches as they wait for Sears’ tenants in the large sitting area. Gentlemen need not take their dates out to a restaurant when they can come over to the first-floor multipurpose room and show off their cooking skills in the newly renovated kitchen. A full-size refrigerator, stove, dishwasher and sink are right at their fingertips.
Suite-style living remains with two people per bedroom and four women sharing an adjoining, completely renovated bathroom. Upgraded with new easy-to-clean fiberglass showers and a dual vanity, girls also enjoy the new counter space, which did not exist before. There’s plenty of room for beauty products and flat irons, and new cabinetry on each end of the bathroom provides extra storage.;
Beds, dressers and desks can all be arranged according to preference, and redesigned closets with swing-out doors make room for each girl’s wardrobe. New tiled carpet in each of the rooms creates a more convenient and cost-effective method for replacing sections as needed.
Residents no longer have to brave rain, snow or heat to wash their clothes. Each floor now has a laundry room with multiple washers and dryers.
Students who have special needs will find themselves right at home. Unique to the building is the addition of 17 allergen-free rooms — which do not have carpet — on the first floor of the east wing. A new cooling and fresh air system optimizes breathing quality and also pulls dust and allergens from the atmosphere. Two extra-large rooms are also available, complete with wheel chair-accessible showers and fold-down seats. Another welcome addition is a brand new elevator.
In only three months time, it was a remarkable change, one even Ty Pennington might be amazed by.