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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Ridgeway Kappa renovations to increase safety

Ridgeway Kappa, which has been closed since April, is set to open back up September 15. The renovated building will include updated plumping and a new fire alarm and sprinkler system.   Photo by Alexandra Bartick
Ridgeway Kappa, which has been closed since April, is set to open back up September 15. The renovated building will include updated plumping and a new fire alarm and sprinkler system. Photo by Alexandra Bartick

Ridgeway Kappa will have new safety systems, updated plumbing and a fresher look in a renovation project anticipated to be completed by early September.

Students should be able to move back in the dorm starting Tuesday, September 15 and the project is paid for by housing capital funds through room and board fees paid by students, said Paul Cocke, university communications director of Western, in an email. The project costs approximately $3.7 million, Kappa project manager John Treston said.

The project, which started in April, is in the process of implementing changes and updates including installation of a new automatic fire sprinkler system, Treston said. A mass notification system to enhance student safety will also be included, Cocke said.

“Usually the thing that takes the [most] amount of time is the testing for the fire alarm and for the fire sprinkler systems, and that takes a couple of weeks,” Treston said. “So that’ll probably be done in late August, so we should be in pretty good shape by that September day.”

Kappa will also have a variety of minor changes, Treston said. These include renovated student rooms and main lounges, new lighting, new drinking fountains and a new hydration station on the first floor. Treston said there will be new desk chairs in student rooms and new lounge furniture as well.

The current tiling will be replaced with vinyl flooring to give it a wood look to match other buildings on campus, as well as finishes to the doors and windows. The building should have a more contemporary look to it, Treston said.

Showers will replace the old tubs in the bathrooms, and plumbing and piping are also being replaced, which Treston said were in “very bad shape.”

Kappa residents were relocated in spring quarter when construction started in April, Cocke said.

“Students will be positively impacted when they return to Kappa in September 2015 — an improved building they can enjoy,” Cocke said.

Kappa is the last Ridgway building to have fire sprinkler upgrades. Fire alarm upgrades and other life safety upgrades will be added to residence halls in the future to support modernization and new fire code requirements as well as bolster student safety, Cocke said.

Treston said progress on the renovation has been going well, though the bathroom has been the biggest project because of the piping, which has been there since Kappa was originally built in the early 1960s.

“The big part, which was kind of a surprise for us – we already knew we were doing the bathrooms, but replacing all the plumbing, piping and things like that was not anticipated,” Treston said. “But once we got in there we saw that we had to do it, so we’re getting that accomplished while we’re there.”

The building has been renovated twice before but the outdated piping was not noticed until now, as renovations don’t normally look into walls. The current renovation team, helmed by Dawson Construction Inc., caught this as they were working in the bathrooms and decided to replace it.

Correction: In a previous version of this article, The Western Front misattributed the source of funding for the project and misspelled the name of Kappa project manager John Treston. 

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