McDowell Hall received $3 million worth of renovations over the summer, in what Executive Director of Housing and Dining Chris Moody calls both cosmetic and infrastructure renovations.
Carpet, paint and furniture in dorm rooms and common areas were upgraded. “Significant work” was also done to the plumbing, pipe and ventilation systems that should nix McDowell’s old moniker “McFoul,” Moody said.
He said students have reacted positively as a result of the “more modern, more contemporary feeling” of the building. The design work was done through Housing and Dining with an interior designer from the University Architect office.
The University also worked with the Department of Public Safety to allow McDowell residents to use an ID card system instead of keys to enter dorm rooms.
In addition to allowing the school to be more “modern with technology,” as Moody said, the system is easier to operate. If an ID card is lost or stolen, the card can be deactivated as opposed to replacing the entire lock and key.
Residents who lose their smart chip-enabled ID card pay $20 to replace the card, said Chad LaDue, director of Operations and Administration for Housing and Dining, while the lost card’s access capability is deactivated. The penalty for a lost mechanical key, however, is $95, charged to the resident to replace both the key and the hardware on the door.
DPS did not record a single theft during the pilot program in Roper or Clark Halls last academic year, according to Captain Norman Bailey. A similar result in McDowell relies on the prudence of residents, who can prevent theft by allowing doors to shut and auto-lock rather than propping them open, Bailey said.
The electronic system could also assist DPS in the instance of theft or crime is tracking capability. Bailey said the surveillance information, which includes failed access attempts and successful entries, would only be used in investigating security breaches.
“The tracking and the auditing of locks is only for incidents,” Caraker explained. “We don’t take statistical data and archive it or anything like that.”
Employing the new system in McDowell required a different protocol for lockouts than that used in the pilot program due to the higher volume of residents, LaDue said. Once technical glitches related to accessing the appropriate AU Internet network are resolved, students will be able to obtain a temporary electronic key coded at the front desk of the residence halls.
DPS would not disclose how much the new locks cost. However, the cost of the installation in Clark and Roper last year was $650 per lock and a one-time $15,000 for additional software, The Eagle previously reported.
AU IDs also feature color-coded stickers on resident identification cards as part of a new protocol that helps front desk staff distinguish if a person resides in North Side, South Side or Tenley Campus, which prevents unauthorized people from accessing a complex without an escort, LaDue said.
McDowell’s lobby was renovated as well. After last summer’s renovation of Anderson Hall, Moody said the University learned to use a different flooring in the lobby. Anderson’s tiled lobby floor has had problems with bubbling, so McDowell switched to a tile system with a different vendor, responding better to moisture and high traffic.
The renovations were completed from May 11 to Aug. 15 this year.
LaDue said Letts Hall is the next residence building due for upgrades, and Moody said Hughes Hall will get a makeover after that.