December 13, 2017

Air Conditioning in Aquinas?

Nick Crenshaw ’20/The Cowl

by Gabriella Pisano ’18

News Staff

With the Campus Transformation of Providence College in full swing, changes around campus have been occurring left and right. With the addition and renovations of academic buildings and the incorporation of Huxley Avenue, it seems as though few pieces of the campus have remained unchanged. However, there have been few major changes to any dorm buildings in recent years—but this may not be the case soon.

There are currently plans in the works to renovate Providence College Campus’ second oldest building: Aquinas Hall. The proposal, originally made in January 2016, aims to revamp Aquinas with a projected price tag of $30 million.

When Aquinas Hall was first built, it was not only a dorm building, but it included a dining hall, recreation room, study lounge, and chapel. At one point in time, DWC classes were held in Aquinas, proving that the hall was multifunctional. Warren Gray, assistant vice president for business, said, “The building is in the center of the campus. It’s a beautiful building, and historically housing is the right use for it.” Gray added, “the age of the building means that renovations will require the building to be gutted.”

Potential changes to the building include, new window systems, patching and repair of building shell, addition of an air conditioning system, bathroom replacements, and other internal fixes. With changes being made, it is likely that the number of dorm rooms in the building will decrease.

As of right now, there are four tentative plans for building renovations. While the number of beds being lost is different for the four potential changes, Gray stated, “The goal is to improve the building while minimizing loss of beds.”

While the number of dorm rooms will decrease, there are no plans to alter the sizing of the current rooms. However, the few suite-like doubles with an adjoining bathroom will potentially be reconfigured.

One of the changes that students living in Aquinas will appreciate is the addition of air conditioning. The temperature of dorm rooms in Aquinas has been an issue in the past for some students. Aquinas resident Camille Greaney ’19, said, “In the summer it’s really hot, and sometimes in the winter, when it’s a nice day out, it is too hot in the room because the heater does not adjust well.”

There is currently no AC in the building, but there is air handling and heat. Those systems are buried in the walls, and will require work to be done on them. In addition to air conditioning, a telecommunication space is going to be added for improved Wifi within the building.

Nick Crenshaw ’20/The Cowl

A large portion of the renovation will be bathroom updates. Commenting on the current bathrooms in Aquinas, resident Sam Redmond ’19 said, “The showers are always flooding in the bathroom and sometimes the lights don’t work.” These bathrooms will not only be redone, but handicap accessible bathrooms will also be added. Currently, the building is designed with two wings on either side, a boy’s side and a girl’s side. New guest bathrooms will allow visiting guests of the opposite sex to have easier access to bathrooms.

While the number of beds in the building will decrease, there is little concern about having too few beds available. “Aquinas can accommodate a maximum of 344 students. Occupancy changes throughout the year, but this year we opened with six open beds in Aquinas,” said Director of Residence Life Jana Valentine. “I would expect that Aquinas would remain a residence hall for sophomores, but that could change during the planning phase.”

Unlike renovations to other buildings on campus, dorm buildings must be approached with greater planning due to the fact that students must reside in the buildings during the academic year. There are currently options to complete the project in a one, two, or three-year span, all of which reserve summer for larger projects where the building must be empty. PC took advantage of this time last summer, replacing the Aquinas roof.

The timeline for these upgrades is still unknown, but students can expect more information in the near future as plans become more concrete. Even though the changes to be made are not yet set in stone, those working on the project aim to update certain aspects of the building to improve the living situation of students in Aquinas Hall.

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