Residence halls at Gustavus underwent construction and renovations over the summer, the majority of which were aimed at Sorenson, North, and Gibbs Halls (Complex) and Norelius Hall. One of the most noticeable changes is the redesign of the windows through the three residence halls of Complex, but summer projects in both Complex and Norelius also included work on elevators, flooring, furniture replacement and bathroom renovations.
The replacement of windows throughout Complex was a sizeable project designed to increase energy efficiency in the rooms and also give the building a new look. The project effectively reduced the size of the window in each room, replacing the remaining space with a stone inlay.
“The stone inlays were a necessity when the windows went from being wall-to-wall windows to what are called casement windows,” Director of Residential Life Charlie Strey said. The benefit for students residing in these rooms will be the extra wall space that is provided by the stone on the outside, which previously was all window area. The stone used for the project was the locally recognizable Kasota Stone, chosen to match the already existing areas of stone on Complex.
“I think the result is a look that is more residential and less office-like,” Director of Physical Plant Warren Wunderlich said.
Another major renovation in the Complex building was the complete replacement of the two elevators in Sorenson and North Halls. This was a continuation of the elevator replacement done two years ago in Pittman and Sohre Halls. The replacement was prompted by a change in Minnesota state law concerning elevators and their environmental influence. The law was designed to protect groundwater from oil contamination by requiring a replacement of some of the elevators’ main components. In the case of the previous elevator systems in Sorenson and North, the elevators had to be completely rebuilt to conform to the new specifications.
The resulting project changed the elevators in Complex from freight class elevators to passenger elevators, which are now available for student use. The rebuilding of the elevators required structural changes to be made to the buildings, which resulted in a size reduction to one room on each floor of North and Sorenson. These rooms have been designated as singles and will be occupied by the floors’ Collegiate Fellows.
Three floors of North hall student rooms had their tile replaced with carpet, and carpet was also placed in the lower levels of North and Sorensen halls.
“We moved to a greener type of carpeting,” Strey said. The carpeting is a carpet tile, or a carpet that can be replaced in small squares instead of in room size rolls. Carpet tile has been replacing old floors in residence halls in recent renovations with the intent of reducing student carpet waste. Students living in residence halls with tile floors often choose to bring in their own carpeting, much of which gets thrown away after only a year or two of use.
Norelius hall also received work over the summer on some continuing projects. The building, which is now in its 42nd year of service as a residence hall, has been undergoing reconstruction of its bathroom facilities in the past few years. Over the summer, all five floors of Norelius’ C tower had their bathrooms stripped down to the structure and rebuilt. The project, which is in its third of four planned phases, replaced the plumbing systems and ceramics.
While the bathroom construction was underway, Norelius also received new floor tile throughout the C and A sections. The area was already closed for construction on the bathrooms, so Gustavus Physical Plant employees took advantage of the opportunity to replace old flooring with the new carpet tile.
“Students bringing their own carpets and then throwing them out is a waste. Replacing the old tile floors will stop enabling that waste,” Wunderlich said.
The summer construction projects, especially the stone infill on the Complex windows, were of a large enough scale to require a general contractor. Gustavus brought in Gosewisch Construction to aid campus employees with the summer projects. The addition of a contractor allowed the projects to be completed in the limited time span of the summer, and also allowed some of the Gustavus work force to engage in projects in academic buildings as well as residence hall renovations.
“We have the ability to change things pretty quickly and easily,” Strey said. “My hope is that students like the renovations that they see happening and the upgrading of the facilities. It’s all part of the college’s long range plan that is important for the college to stay up to date.”