Will the Construction Ever End?

Sick of all the campus construction? Well, sit back because students are about to see much more of it. For those of you who are bored with the construction that has plagued Stillwell building for the past few years, rest assured, the Stillwell construction should be completed this fall. Frustrated with the mess beside Reid Gym instead? Not to worry, the area being worked on is the construction site for a new student recreational center. Now, ready for the big changes being made to the heart of Western Carolina University’s campus? Say goodbye to Helder Hall and Dodson Cafeteria, because both buildings are coming down this year. Students will have until next year to say their farewells to Leatherwood Hall, which is also scheduled to be removed for the large project which faculty members have dubbed the “Honors College Complex.” Helder’s demolition is scheduled to take place the week of July 9, providing that everything goes according to plan. The former residence hall’s demolition will serve two purposes: it will free up space for a new dining hall and it will set the stage for a new Honors College building. Reynolds Hall, the current Honors dormitory, will now be a dorm for the general population. Tim Chapman, the Associate Director for Facilities, explained the basic construction plan. The Honors College Complex will occur in two phases.

The first phase involves the construction of Building 1, which includes the Honors College Administrative office. The original plans for Building 1 included a 118, 909 square foot area with 117 double rooms and 192 single rooms. The building will be in the location of the current parking lot for Helder Hall. The excavation for phase one is scheduled to take place this winter and be near completion next year.

The second phase will involve the construction of Building 2, which was originally expected to be approximately 115,588 square feet. Based on the original plans, Building 2 is expected to include an approximate 5,500 square foot conference center as well as 116 double occupancy rooms and 174 single occupancy rooms. Phase two is currently scheduled for completion in August 2009.

The Honors College Complex will include a kitchen on every floor, hopefully giving students time to interact with each other as they prepare their meals. Single occupancy rooms will include one bathroom that will be shared with another single room. Double occupancy rooms will include their own bathroom unit in the room. The goal here, based on student preferences, is to limit each bathroom to two people, establishing privacy that cannot be achieved with one single communal bathroom located in the hallway of other dormitories.

A Central Chiller Plant will also be constructed, which is planned to coincide with phase one of the Honors College Complex. The plant will provide chilled water to both dorm buildings as well as the new dining hall.

The new dining hall is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2008, coinciding with Leatherwood’s demolition and construction (which will not begin until next May at the earliest). “The new dining hall will offer students both an All You Care To Eat location and retail locations such as Starbucks, Panda Express and McAlister’s Deli,” states Michelle Crowe. The SGA (Student Government Association) passed three new changes for dining services during the Spring Semester:1. Dodson will be transformed from a retail location to an “All You Care To Eat” location. (Students will be given more variety as the menus change every meal and will also be given a better value.)2. Brown, now known as the “Cat’s Den,” will be transformed into a retail location with late night hours of operation. Cat’s Den will be open seven days a week from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and will include food such as hot sandwiches, wings and pizza. 3. Freshman residential students will be required to purchase a block meal plan in order to support the changes being made in dining locations.

According to Crowe, Dodson’s hours for fall semester will be Monday throughFriday, 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Saturday through Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Dodson will offer food stations including a deli, a grill, pizza, pasta, home station, salad bar and specialty station. The menus at each station will change at each meal. Students may use their declining balance at Dodson at a rate of $4.75 for Breakfast, $5.75 for Lunch and $6.75 for Dinner on the “All You Care To Eat” meal. Dodson will be the only location that will accept these block plan meals. The entire project is anticipated to encompass the next three years. So, how many more changes should students expect? Well, Scott Hall will be receiving new elevators for the Fall semester, all buildings will have their own sprinkler units and WCU is currently in the process of switching cable providers to a dish network. Accommodating to students’ wants and needs while trying to keep WCU an up-to-date university does not come easy. “It’s a challenge,” admits Chapman.