June 19, 2023 | https://scbiznews.com/rss/constructionGo to Source

Clemson University today is officially launching a major renovation project for the three high-rise complexes that house more than a third of its first-year students. Work began earlier this month on the $155 million project but the university planned to mark the occasion with a ground-breaking ceremony at 10 a.m.

Manning Hall, Lever Hall and Byrnes Hall lodge about 1,400 students each year. Built in 1967, 1968 and 1970, respectively, the three 11-story buildings have provided a temporary home to more than 75,000 Clemson students in the last five decades, according to a university news release.

The buildings are located north of the Hendrix Student Center and serve as the anchors for Bryan Mall, a cul-de-sac ringed by the three high-rises and three smaller dorms: Smith, Barnett and Mauldin halls.

Most of the renovations will take place to the interiors. All of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems — most of it original — will be upgraded or replaced, the release said.

The building overhauls will make the complex fully accessible to individuals with mobility disabilities and include reroofing and other improvements to the exteriors. Additionally, the main entrances will be moved to face one another to help create a community courtyard and social space. Currently, the doors all face west.

The project, designed by architectural consulting and design firm Boudreaux + Little, is scheduled to take three-and-a-half years, with general contractor Juneau Construction renovating each building one at a time, starting with Byrnes. The decision to renovate instead of complete demolition and rebuild reflects a financial goal to continue to provide quality housing at a competitive rate with peer institutions, the release stated. Demolishing and replacing the buildings was estimated to cost $125 million more than renovation, the release stated. Manning Hall cost just more than $2 million to construct in 1967.

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“Among the many factors that go into deciding to renovate versus demolish and replace was our concern that we continue to offer community-style housing at a price point that would involve only modest increases once re-opened,” Kathy Bush Hobgood, Clemson’s associate vice president for auxiliary enterprises, said in the release. “We pride ourselves on offering many choices that allow students to select what works for them.”

Hobgood said in addition to the electrical, mechanical, accessibility and plumbing improvements, the project designers have taken the opportunity to make significant improvements to the living spaces to maximize value while addressing student desires and needs.

“Currently, there are only common spaces and lounges on the first and ground floors in each building, and now there will be study and social space on every floor in addition to big beautiful new common areas,” she said. “Each common area will be different. For instance, one might have a big open lounge with a pool table, one may be more of a study area, and one will have a community front desk where everybody can go to get their keys or up packages from a locker system similar to the one at Manning Hall today.”

Leasa Kowalski Evinger, director of residential living, said the new common spaces are designed to bring students together naturally and generate an atmosphere of togetherness.

“The high rises have been missing spaces for informal interaction,” Evinger said in the release. “There is no open space on a floor to peer into a spot that isn’t someone’s bedroom to find an individual or group of people who are living life together. Our new design offers the opportunity for students to study and socialize in ways that will build powerful community by allowing for organic connections that today’s student so greatly craves but might not know how to create for themselves.”

Room layouts will also get significant upgrades. The current community bathrooms will be replaced by “wet core” bathroom designs, creating small, more home-like private bath spaces with a shower and toilet in each area and a locking door. Built-in furniture and “popcorn” ceilings will be removed, and finishes will be replaced.

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