Residence halls revamped

Each of the halls will have a completely revised main level, including a themed common space and lounge.
Each of the halls will have a completely revised main level, including a themed common space and lounge.

When Dows, Tarr, Pauley, and Rorem halls were built, the United States hadn’t been to the moon. The Beatles were still putting out albums. Woodstock wasn’t even a gleam in a hippie’s eye.

In the intervening years thousands of students have called those halls home, and they look pretty much the same as they did in the 1960s. That’s going to change starting this May, when Cornell begins a $10 million, 15-month renovation project.

The project is made possible by outright gifts from members of the college’s Board of Trustees and their families, including leadership gifts from John Smith ’71 and Dyan Smith; Richard Small ’50 and Norma Thomas Small; Linda Webb Koehn ’66 and Thomas Koehn; and Richard Williams ’63 and Marlene Williams.

The renovations will include more inviting entrances and patios for each building, more natural light and activity spaces, new and expanded bathrooms, and upgrades to student rooms, including new flooring, lighting, and furniture.

As a residential college with 92 percent of students living on campus, it’s essential to have high-quality residence halls to attract and retain students, said John W. Harp, vice president for student affairs.

“These residence halls were built nearly 50 years ago, and student expectations have changed dramatically since then. These renovations will provide vibrant and engaging spaces to help our students have the best possible experience at Cornell College,” Harp said.

Each of the four buildings will have a themed lounge on the first floor: Pauley will have an area dedicated to recreation and games; Rorem have a reading room and individual and group study rooms; Tarr will have a stage and performance area; and Dows will have a demonstration-style kitchen.

“The tremendous support from the Board of Trustees is a sign of their commitment and of a strong future for Cornell,” said President Jonathan Brand. “Higher education as a sector is facing many challenges, but the gifts from our trustees ensure that we will continue to improve our residential and academic buildings across campus.”

Work will proceed in phases, starting with Pauley Hall in May 2014. All four halls will be finished by the beginning of the 2015-16 academic year, and only one building will be offline at a time, to maximize space available for housing and minimize inconvenience for students.