Western Carolina University held a rededication ceremony Saturday, Sept. 22, to celebrate a $15.5 million renovation to Harrill Residence Hall that enhanced student rooms and community areas while incorporating energy-efficient features.
“This was designed to be a space for students to live and learn in for many years to come,” said Sam Miller, vice chancellor for student affairs.
The yearlong renovation project reconfigured the now 77,296-square-foot residence hall built in 1971 into modern suites of rooms for 354 students, added kitchenettes and living and gathering spaces, and featured a 6,000-square-foot addition with an upscale meeting venue.
Harrill Hall resident Kristy Decker, a junior from Maiden majoring in secondary education, said students have been impressed.
“Everyone said, ‘Wow, I didn’t expect this,’” said Decker.
In addition, the renovation enhanced the building’s energy efficiency with such features as construction of a geothermal heating and air-conditioning system that harnesses the earth’s energy by transferring heat absorbed by the earth via geothermal wells to heat the building, heat water for showers and power the air-conditioning system. Also, exterior wall insulation and canopies to control sunlight entering the building were part of the project.
The alterations qualify the building for LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification at the gold level. A display panel in the lobby shares information about the building’s environmentally friendly features as well as current energy use.
Joan MacNeill, chair of WCU’s Board of Trustees, described the upgraded facility as first-class. Chancellor David O. Belcher called the project a good fit with new construction at WCU, the university’s commitment to energy efficiency and student housing expectations.
“We worked hard to make Harrill Residence Hall feel more like home,” said Belcher, adding that the residence hall will help students “build that community that will last long after they are at the university.”
Approximately 4,000 WCU students live on campus, and rooms accommodating 2,000 of them have been part of new construction or renovation projects within the last eight years.
“That’s an incredible amount in just eight years – to take half of our housing capacity and upgrade it to this level,” said Miller
For more information, contact Keith Corzine, director of residential living, at 828-227-7303.