The first phase of the multi-million dollar Buchanan Towers renovation is underway.
According to Western Today, the $24.5 million project will be completed in two phases. The first phase began at the start of spring quarter and will focus on the north wing. It is scheduled to finish by the end of summer quarter. Phase two, which involves the south wing and the second and fourth floor lounges, will be completed during the 2019 spring and summer quarters.
Students can not live in the renovated areas during these times, according to Western Today.
Western Director of Communications Paul Cocke said in an email that there are enough rooms available for on-campus residents in the spring and summer quarters.
“Given graduation, study abroad, internship possibilities with students, we oftentimes have approximately 300 empty beds [throughout campus] at the start of spring quarter,” Cocke said.
Buchanan Towers was chosen for renovation due to recurring plumbing failures that occurred between 2013 and 2015, Cocke said.
According to Western Today, the two-year project will include a renovation of residence rooms, bathrooms, kitchens and lounges. Gender-inclusive, Americans with Disabilities-Compliant restrooms and ADA-accessible private studios will be provided in the renovation. It will also upgrade the buildings’ plumbing, ventilation, gutters and interior finishes.
The choice to renovate Buchanan Towers over some of Western’s older residence halls has caused some students to feel frustrated and disappointed.
Among these students is junior Nicole Dotlich, a Ridgeway Omega resident.
Dotlich said the windows, heating system and showers in her building need serious work, and that Western is overlooking certain buildings that aren’t as front and center as Buchanan Towers.
“Buildings like [mine] need renovation. It’s not a matter of ‘maybe we can put it off.’ No, it needs renovation now,” Dotlich said.
Freshman Evan Davies started the school year living in Buchanan Towers before relocating to Edens North for renovations. He shares similar sentiments with Dotlich.
“Since I’ve moved to Edens, I’ve seen a lot of stuff in there that’s pretty old,” Davies said. “Buchanan was old as well and it definitely needed to be renovated, but I don’t know if it was the one that needed it the most.”
Brendan O’Neill, president of the Residence Hall Association and current Buchanan Towers resident, said one of the major reasons students are frustrated about the renovation is due to misinformation about the project.
“The thing with BT is that it hasn’t been renovated as much as people think,” O’Neill said. “It is one of the newer buildings on campus, but there is a lot of health risks and other facilities-related risks that need to be looked at.”
O’Neill said one of the things he is most looking forward to with the renovations is the new security it will provide.
Buchanan Towers will be the first dorm on Western’s campus with electronic access on all doors, including exterior, interior suite and bedroom doors, he said.
Sophomore Abdul-Malik Ford, a resident advisor at Buchanan Towers, is enthusiastic about the finished project.
“I’m just excited. We’re getting key card access, new kitchens, bathrooms. It’s just going to look so much better,” Ford said.
However, Ford said he can see the potential drawbacks of starting such a major project in the middle of the school year.
“People built up a community and then they had to move out of it, away from all the people that they’ve known. That can be especially rough for freshmen,” Ford said.