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St. Vincent College plans $1.8M update of Bonaventure, Gerard residence halls

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Saturday, April 5, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
 

A pair of residence halls at St. Vincent College will be upgraded as part of a $1.8 million, two-phase renovation project over the next two summers intended to modernize the underclassman dormitory buildings without interrupting students during the academic year.

Bonaventure and Gerard halls were constructed in 1963, and the college has tabbed the buildings as priorities for renovations.

The halls can accommodate 472 students and resident assistants — or prefects, as they're known at St. Vincent. Both halls are coeducational, with separate floors reserved for male and female students.

“I know a lot of my residents are going to be living there multiple years, so they're really excited for it,” said Courtney James, a senior from St. Marys in Elk County who serves as a prefect in Gerard Hall. “The buildings aren't bad, but you can tell they were definitely built a long time ago. Anything they can do to make them a little homier would be nice.”

Common areas such as stairwells, hallways and restrooms will get a face-lift through new flooring, ceiling tile, doors, lighting and fixtures.

The entrances to both buildings will be altered to include storefront-style windows, according to Don Orlando, St. Vincent's director of public relations. The first-floor lounge in Gerard Hall will be expanded and air-conditioned.

“Our residence halls are the students' home while they are enrolled,” said Associate Dean of Students Robert Baum. “We want our students to be comfortable and safe in their campus home where they work on their academics and socialize with friends. This project will enhance the environment in these two buildings.”

More than 70 percent of St. Vincent students live on campus in the college's six residence halls.

“An important characteristic of a St. Vincent College education is the concept of community,” said Mary Collins, the college's vice president for student affairs. “Most of our students reside in on-campus housing, where we strive to create an environment that promotes all of our Benedictine traditions, including hospitality, stewardship and service. We're excited to be improving their living and learning spaces through this renovation project.”

In addition to the interior updates to the halls known to students as “Gerry” and “Bonny,” a stamped concrete patio with a barbecue pit and outdoor furniture will be installed between the two buildings.

“The students are looking forward to these enhancements in the residence halls,” said Justin Teets, a junior from Connellsville who serves as president of the Student Government Association executive board. “We were honored to be asked to be involved in the planning meetings resulting in additions such as the outdoor patio, which I know the students will enjoy.”

MacLachlin, Cornelius and Filoni of Pittsburgh, the architectural group responsible for the award-winning design for the Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion at St. Vincent, will handle design work on the residence hall project. James Construction of Carnegie will serve as the general contractor.

All St. Vincent campus residence halls include lounge areas, a community television and microwave, laundry facilities, vending machines and smoke detectors, Orlando said. Residence hall rooms have cable television and telephone access, as well as wired and wireless Internet access.

Updated residence halls will help make St. Vincent an attractive option, especially as many nearby state schools have modernized their dormitories, officials said.

Between 2006 and 2010, Indiana University of Pennsylvania replaced 11 residence halls with more modern, suite-style buildings as part of a $245 million “Residential Revival” project, and all six of California University of Pennsylvania's residence halls have been built in recent years, according to the school's website.

Nearby Seton Hill University in Greensburg opened two residence halls in the past 10 years: Farrell Hall in 2004 and DeChantal Hall in 2005. Infrastructure enhancements are planned for the Brownlee residence hall over the next two summers, according to university spokeswoman Jennifer Reeger.

Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913, or greinbold@tribweb.com.

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