Wright Hall Opens for Occupancy
Wright Hall, the newest Alma College residence hall is open for occupancy.
The beautiful $4 million environmentally-friendly project received rave reviews from the first students to move in and staff and community members who attended open houses the first week of January.
"I'm ready to go back to college and move in," Doris Amsbury, a resident of Masonic Pathways in Alma and a 1933 graduate of Alma, said.
The apartment-style complex combines tradition with environmental features. Wright Hall was designed from major student input to be a model of environmental sustainability and alumni recommendations to memorialize their residence hall of the same name that stood on the same ground.
Elements of the design came partly from teams of students competing for the 2003 Kapp Honors Day Prize that focused on sustainability in the new residence hall. Senior Taylor Heins of Grand Ledge and a member of the winning team was part of the residence hall planning committee offering input concerning the design. She moved into one of the single-unit apartments.
The new building is designed for four students in 15 double and single units equipped with private baths, living rooms and kitchens. Designed to be more like apartments than dorm rooms, the building is conducive to the family atmosphere Alma College projects. Single units occupants have their own bedrooms while double-occupant units share a two-person bedroom.
Kitchens in each apartment have complete cooking, cleaning and food storage facilties. A microwave heats the fast meal or late-night snack for busy students. Unit bathrooms are large enough so, with cooperation, two students can get ready for class at the same time.
The building has rooms set aside for student academic collaboration. Keeping with the commons theme envisioned in the Colleges strategic plan, a Commons Area provides a venue for social activities and a place for student poets, musicians, actors and artists to showcase their talents.
A carpeted laundry room with floor-to-ceiling windows and comfortable chairs eases the unpleasant task of wash day. Game rooms provide breaks from study.
Construction started in spring 2004 and came in on budget on time. The majority of the landscaping was finished before the snows came and should yield green grass in the spring. Trees and plants native to the mid-Michigan area provide for relaxation and in the summer the cooling effects and air-conditioning savings.
While the new design considers the architecture of the 1902 structure that was retired in 1976, technology has far outpaced the electric lighting and porcelain-lined bathtubs that made old Wright Hall such an impressive place to live. Many materials are low-emission and operable windows provide air quality and flow. Many of the construction materials will be recycled products and a recycling program will be in effect in the residence.
The planning committee has thoughtfully developed the project balancing the heritage of old Wright Hall with the needs of todays students, said Jerry Scoby, vice president for finance and administration. Some of these environmental considerations have a very limited payback or save little money, but the green building fits Almas educational mission of being responsible stewards of the world we leave to future generations.
A geothermal heat pump provides heating and cooling, a process that saves the College from using an estimated 34,000 BTUs per square foot per year of natural gas. Cost savings are estimated at seven cents per square foot per year. Environmentally important, the heat pump releases less toxins in the air when compared to the alternative gas boiler/air cooled chiller.
Rooms are designed with energy-efficient window glass to allow optimal natural sunlight for an airy atmosphere that is energy efficient. Solar panels installed on the south side capture heat that ties into the hot water system. Low-flow showerheads, low-volume flush toilets and energy efficient washing machines reduce water usage. Tiled carpeting instead of rolled products allows selective, easy replacement in traffic patterns and high-usage areas.
Just like the original Wright Hall was planned for the health and comfort of the students the new Wright Hall adds the advantages of resource stewardship.
Posted: Tue, January 4th, 2005 at 1:44PM