Leonard Hall renovation project to begin in May
The renovation includes layout changes to bathrooms and lounges as well as updates to residence hall rooms
American University’s Leonard Hall will undergo extensive renovations this summer, including changes to residence hall rooms, bathrooms, lounges and the lobby.
The renovations were announced on March 3, and preparation of the building and the surrounding area began over spring break. The project will officially start on May 15, the day after extended-stay students move out of the residence halls. It is expected to be finished over the summer with students moving in for the fall 2023 semester in August.
“Leonard Hall will be extensively renovated as part of the ongoing evolution of our residence halls,” wrote Elizabeth Deal, AU’s assistant vice president of community and internal communications, to The Eagle in an email.
Interior overhauls will begin in the lobby, with a new front desk and redesigned decor. A lounge-type setting on the first floor called The Hatch will be renovated by knocking down the interior wall that divides the room. A new pool table will be added to this common room, along with study and eating spaces and a TV.
On each residential floor, lounges will be combined with kitchens, which were previously separated by a wall. New decorations and high tables will also be incorporated. These renovated lounges will more closely match those in Anderson Hall.
Each Leonard residential room will have new carpets, mattresses and refurbished cabinetry.
Leonard currently has two single-gender restrooms and a total of ten showers on each floor. Once the upcoming changes have been implemented, each floor will have one restroom with seven “pods.” Every pod is to have a shower, toilet and floor-to-ceiling lockable door. Leonard will be the first residence hall building at AU to have coed communal bathrooms.
“This is an alternate and unique way to provide a bunch of safety,” said Assistant Vice President of Facilities Management Vincent Harkins. “That’s a huge improvement, but it’s also something that’s being done across the country.”
This comes after AU promised in December to research gender-inclusive restrooms for the Battelle-Tompkins Building, Leonard Hall, Letts Hall and Hughes Hall. In August, AU planned to change all of the gender-neutral restrooms across campus into single-gender restrooms. The announcement was met with negative feedback across the AU community, causing the reevaluation in December and ultimately gender-neutral bathrooms planned within Leonard Hall.
Leonard Hall was built in 1966 and was most recently renovated in 2007, when the residence hall was repainted and received new carpets and furniture. Before that, the hall was renovated in 1991.
Dorm renovations happen relatively regularly, with each dorm being renovated on a cycle of 12 to 16 years, according to Harkins. The planning process for this renovation project began two years ago.
The next hall to be renovated will be McDowell, a project that is set to begin in May of 2024. Planning for this project is already underway.
The process for planning renovations involves collaboration with Housing and Residence Life, Facilities Management, ASAC, student focus groups and those living near AU’s campus, said Harkins.
“All of this is an incredibly involved process. It has a lot of campus partners that have a seat at the table,” said Jasmine Pelaez, Internal Communications Officer at AU.
The hall is currently a freshman dorm, but will house sophomores next year. Roughly 275 students currently reside in the hall.
This article was edited by Mackenzie Konjoyan, Jordan Young and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis, Luna Jinks and Stella Guzik.