By Mallory Sherwood, Features Editor
Steel beams loom in the sky, rising from big dirt holes in the ground; cars haphazardly park around the construction site. Workers in yellow hardhats flood what once was a student parking lot. The construction continues.
As expected, construction on the new residence hall, A.B. Barret Hall, located across Campus Court from Brown Library, should be completed by Aug. 1.
The three-story residence hall is several weeks behind schedule but should still be completed on time, said Jack Rich, executive vice president of the university.
Contractors and subcontractors working at different speeds is one factor that contributes to the schedule, he said. ACU has hired as many as 25 different companies to construct the residence hall.
The $6.5 million, 43,000 square-foot hall will differ from other buildings on campus.
“It’s pretty unique,” Rich said. “It won’t be like any of our other halls.”
Rich said the residence hall is divided into four sections called pods that extend three floors high. Eight rooms open into a commons area on each floor, in each of the four pods. There are no hallways between the four pods, so residents will have to go outside to get into each different pod.
The residence hall will also contain a classroom environment and include a coffee house, said Dr. Mimi Barnard, director of Residence Life Education and Housing, in an e-mail.
“The spaces that would have been hallways in a traditional corridor building, such as Nelson or Mabee, were reconfigured for the 22 smaller lobby spaces in Barret Hall,” Barnard said.
“I suggested we put a classroom in the facility, and as we know that students love to hang out and drink coffee, we thought a coffee house concept would be very valuable.”
The construction of Barret Hall began after housing became a problem last fall with the large incoming freshman class. Eighteen freshman women lived in Sikes Hall, a sophomore residence hall, this year.
“We had a housing issue last fall with not enough places for everyone,” said Kevin Watson, chief administrative services officer, in an e-mail. “We anticipate another good number in the fall, so we decided it was time to proceed with the building.”
The residence hall will house 165 students, including residence directors and assistants.
Barnard said she expects sophomores to live in Barret Hall in the fall based on enrollment projections.
The residence hall will be the first housing construction completed for underclassmen in more than 25 years, Watson said. University Park Apartments, for upperclassmen, was completed in 1994, and Smith and Adams hall’s were completed in 1978.
In the future, more construction will occur on campus, Rich said. In correlation with the Centennial Campaign, a new building will be built across from Williams Performing Arts Center.
As for now, completion of the residence hall by August comes first, and the university will move forward with long-range plans when funding is there, Watson said.
“We are not ahead of schedule,” he said. “The timeline is very, very tight. Everything has to go just right for us to make it.”