AU renovates Letts

This summer's modest renovations to Letts Hall, one of the three Southside complex residence halls, are expected to be completed under budget and by their scheduled Aug. 1 deadline, University officials said last week.

The building, which had its last major renovation in 1990, is mainly being "spruced up," according to University architect and project manager Virginia Richardson. The walls are being painted, carpet and ceiling tiles replaced, elevators and furniture refinished and facilities cleaned-cosmetic changes but ones that should make the dormitory more pleasant, she hopes.

"The refinishing looks great...everything looks brand new," Richardson said.

The hallways will also be brighter, with additional overhead lights added; the lounges will be getting new cushions, some room furniture is being replaced, and many other room furnishings are being refinished. The wall between the back-to-back study lounges on each floor is being knocked out and the space converted into one, larger Anderson Hall-like study lounge.

University contractors are also adding new electrical and communications wiring to the building-or what Jeff Humphrey, director of housing operations for the University's Housing and Dining Programs office, termed "technology infrastructure." In all, the renovations are expected to cost around $1.4 million, he said.

Because the physical layout of the building is not being changed, students will not have to relearn their way around the 41-year-old building, though the small doors-known by many students as the 'magic doors'-that separated the North and South sides of the building are being removed and the lobby is getting a face-lift.

"The biggest impact will be the front lobby...it will have a totally different look," Richardson said. "The desk itself will keep its current look, but we're adding new things," including ceramic tiles.

Besides the physical changes to Letts Hall, the summer is also changing Letts in other ways. Starting this summer all floors are-like in all other AU residence halls-strictly non-smoking, and like Centennial and Leonard Halls, Letts will have a new administrator-known as a "resident director." Amber Lange, former resident director at Clemson University, will fill the position.

The Letts renovations come on the heels of facelifts to Federal and Capital Halls on the Tenley Campus, which occurred over the past two years and after the construction of a University-run apartment complex in Maryland known as Park Bethesda. Though the University generally tries to renovate one dormitory each year, it is yet to be decided whether any of the buildings will need attention next year, though Humphrey indicated that the housing office would like to build up its savings by not renovating unless there was a clear need to do so.

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