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Some Rutgers residence halls are outdated, face demolition

Residence halls are what students rely on as their "homes away from home" during their college experience.

But the days of many Rutgers residence halls are numbered.

Some buildings need more attention than others, said Steve Dubiago, senior director of Mechanical Maintenance in the Operations and Services Division of University Facilities and Capital Planning.

“Many buildings were constructed prior to 1960,” Dubiago said. “This list includes Demarest, Frelighuysen, Hardenbergh, Campbell, Jameson, Woodbury-Bunting Cobb, Katzenbach, Lippincott and Nicholas, to name a few.”

He also mentioned that the University is already working on renovating the outdated buildings, but started with buildings that were a bit older than the pre-1960s buildings.

Also included in this inventory of recently renovated buildings is the Bishop Quad project, which consisted of the pre-1930 buildings Hegeman, Leupp, Wessels and Pell, Dubiago said.

The timeline for the renovations and demolitions of the residence halls is shown on the Rutgers University website with the exact plans.

“All stakeholders interested in the demolition and construction of buildings should reference the Rutgers University Physical Master Plan," he said.

The master plan includes positive movement for housing.

“Significant new housing is proposed for Busch and Cook/Douglass to complement recently completed projects or those currently underway at Livingston and College Avenue,” according to the master plan.

But the plan does not mention which buildings will be demolished.

Although there is nothing in the master plan that mentions specific halls being demolished, one building in particular sticks out in School of Arts and Sciences senior Dana Campbell's mind when it comes to renovations.

“I actually hated Davidson a lot. The rooms are so small and having no air conditioning was a serious problem," she said.

Campbell lived in Davidson Hall on Busch campus during her first year at Rutgers. According to the Rutgers website, this hall was built in 1961 and is comprised of four buildings that are specifically for first-year students.

“I remember when I first moved in it was so hard to set up my stuff because how the room is arranged when they give it to you (and) requires you to move it around,” she said.

The air conditioning complaint is not an uncommon for Rutgers to hear.

Many of the buildings on campus predate facilities where cooling services were standard, Dubiago said.

There were some set backs to the living arrangement that Campbell noticed as early as move-in day, she said.

“The room is perfectly put together but then you open your closet and there's a set of drawers in it. So now you have to rearrange your room to fit a set of drawers,” Dana said. “My parents and my roommates family spent hours trying to figure out how to set up the room.”

The most common complaint students have with the residence halls relates specifically to the age of the specific building their respective residents reside in, Dubiago said.

Campbell said she found the aged buildings had affected other areas besides the dorm room she shared with her roommates. She had a hard time adjusting to the struggles of an old bathroom as well.

“There was one shower that never got warm and one day someone stole the shower curtain from the good shower so we were all forced to take lukewarm showers,” she said.

The master plan, is set to be finished by 2030, Dubiago said. The Rutgers community can expect to see many improvements in the next few years.

Dubiago said housing built in more recent years, as well as the renovated old housing, are considered to be more adaptive and acceptable when meeting student needs.

“Today, buildings are constructed with more sophisticated systems which improve indoor comfort, energy efficiency and flexibility in function,” he said.

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