In its 91st year, one of John Brown’s oldest and most storied buildings might be getting a new lease on life. Emphasis on might.
The administration is in the process of drawing up plans and seeking funding for a complete renovation of J. Alvin Hall’s interior as the dorm approaches its centennial.
The University has commissioned architects from Hastings & Chivetta, a St. Louis-based firm, and has been having conversations with the architects since last summer about a possible renovation.
The firm’s previous work on campus includes the recent Windham Visual Arts East renovation and the new Balzer Technology Center.
In a feedback session last week in the J. Alvin atrium, preliminary sketches outlining the school’s vision for a J. Alvin renovation were unveiled to hall residents.
As of now, the plans are to replace J. Alvin’s 24 suites with 14-15 larger, completely rebuilt suites.
“We like J. Alvin,” said Andre Broquard, director of residence life, “We like the Atrium space. We like that it’s connected to the center of campus. We like that there’s a history. We don’t want to turn J. Alvin into anything new. We just need to address … the size of the rooms, the bathrooms and some mechanical systems that need to be updated.”
Along with all-new, eight-room suites with larger rooms, the proposed renovation would move all restrooms to interior of the building, opening up valuable space on the outside of the building for dorm rooms.
As of now, the Atrium would be mostly untouched. The first summer after funding is found, the plan is to have one hall be renovated while the other hall is still housing residents, albeit at a diminished capacity. After one semester, the residents would move into the new hall and the process would be repeated on the other hall the next semester.
“Nothing is for certain, though,” Broquard said. “The current plans are very preliminary. After more feedback sessions, the plans should be finalized and made into schematics by the end of the semester.”
So far the response has been positive.
“I think it’s a good idea to freshen it up in here,” said freshman J. Alvin resident Stephen LaGue. “Everything they’re doing, from moving bathrooms to connecting suites to removing the built in closets to expanding the rooms, it’s all brilliant.”
Broquard said that the feedback of current J. Alvin residents is a key part of the process.
“Its great that they are asking for our input,” said LaGue. “It means that this project is being handled in a really cool way.”
Ideally, in January, estimates would be made to see how much funding would be needed for the project.
At that point, it would be up to donors to make the project a reality.