LIZ MONROE, News Editor—
Student housing changes originally announced in 2019 are now being pushed back to the summer of 2021. These changes, including the removal of carpet and new furniture, are based on input gathered from student research.
“Like many things in 2020, the Summer 2020 residential renovations were placed on hold due to COVID. In Summer 2021, Denison will renovate Smith, Shorney, Curtis East, Curtis West and Crawford [residence halls] as well as Good and Myers Halls,” Senior Director of Residential Communities and Housing Carianne Meng said.
According to Meng, all of the halls being renovated this summer will get “refreshed student rooms with new paint, lighting, hard flooring, new furniture, mattresses and amazing community lounge renovations.”
“All of the renovations and student cohort relocations are part of Denison’s Housing Master Plan, which sought to re-imagine our facilities and think creatively about how we’ll meet the needs and interests of current and future Denison students,” Meng said.
In summer and fall 2017, a Denison working group vetted and selected two firms, Brailsford & Dunlavey and Ayers Saint Gross, to assist with creating a vision and plan for residential halls at Denison. While these firms have worked on master plan projects at other schools similar to Denison, it was decided that a lot of student input, research and feedback from Denisonians was necessary to ensure the correct vision and plan was developed.
RED Corps does research and design for many projects on campus now, but this student team was created for the express purpose of gathering student insights for Denison’s Housing Master Plan, and this student feedback was critical input for the final version of the plan.
One very interesting piece of research RED Corps conducted was a mapping exercise through which over 100 students sketched on maps how they thought class years should be housed. That exercise was in addition to interviewing students waiting in line at Curtis and Huffman, focus groups, design charrettes, and surveys of the entire student body.
The research was conducted over a 16-month period, from January 2018 through May 2019 to be comprehensive and thorough.
“We set very high bars for the RED Corps in terms of direct engagement with peers, and they achieved extremely high levels of student engagement,” Meng said.
As for the Housing Master Plan itself, it places first-year students on East Quad in Crawford and on West Quad in Shorney and Smith.
“This gives first-year students the opportunity to live as two large cohorts in their own buildings, but also integrates them on quads with older students, which is something both first-years and older students described as an important part of Denison culture. Significantly, this plan also relieves some of the parking issues that have frustrated older students,” Meng explained.
Students have a lot to look forward to with the Housing Master Plan being implemented in fall of 2021 where Smith, Shorney and Crawford Hall will house first-year students. Curtis East and West will become Curtis Hall and will house returning students.
The summer 2021 renovation will completely revamp these residential halls with the changes mentioned above. Additionally, single occupant, all-gender restrooms will be installed where possible (some of these restroom additions were completed in Summer 2020).
Good and Myers are receiving updates identical to what students experienced in Pratt and Brown Halls.
“I’m especially excited that many of the changes consider student wellness holistically. New lounges give students more space to study and socialize. Updated kitchens will provide space to cook and gather. Updates to resident rooms provide better lighting, no carpet and new mattresses. This is a really exciting time and I hope students are excited to experience these ‘firsts,’” Meng said.