Mark Twain residence hall renovations get green light

A new entrance is among the changes brought on by the renovation.
The entrance of Mark Twain Residence Hall will see new renovations next year after the UM system Board of Curators approved an $18.6 million bond to renovate Mark Twain in spring 2012. The construction on the hall will include the creation of a new entrance.

The delayed renovations on Mark Twain residence hall will begin in spring 2012, per the UM system Board of Curators’ bond approval last week.

“This hall was built in 1965, and you can see it has a need for extensive renovations given the age of that building,” said Nikki Krawitz, UM System vice president of finance and administration, at the Nov. 22 meeting. “It will extend the usable life for at least 30 years.”

Since its construction in 1965, Mark Twain hasn’t received any major renovations, Director of Residential Life Frankie Minor said.

“Mark Twain is a building that is over 40 years old,” Minor said. “Our sense is that some of these things just needed to be upgraded. We’ve done a great job maintaining them, but after time some things just start to wear out.”

Some of the portions of the building Minor is referring to include the exterior of the building itself. A frequent sufferer of water infiltration issues, the residence hall will receive a new exterior skin to combat this problem.

“It’s been an annoying problem that we’ve been trying to solve through a number of caulking solutions, but it’s just not working,” Minor said. “In essence, we’re going to put a new outside on the tower portion of the building to deal with those problems.”

Another significant change to the building is the relocated entrance, Minor said. Mark Twain’s entrance is located far from the street. This is something Minor said would appear strikingly different to post-renovation residents.

“The future students will notice that you enter in a brand-new way,” Minor said. “That kind of cattle chute that you walk up now will be gone. The entrance will be much closer to the street.”

After entering the building, according to architectural renderings, students will be in a small foyer area. Then, they can either choose to go left to Mark Twain’s dining hall or walk straight into the residence hall.

If the student chooses to take a left, he or she will likely notice more changes, Minor said. Campus Dining Services is funding the $3.175 million in renovations on Mark Twain Market, which lacks interior bathrooms. This will change after the renovations, as will the size and layout of the seating area.

The trade-off for the increased dining area, though, is Mark Twain’s pool. Mark Twain is the only residence hall with a swimming pool, and it requires frequent maintenance attention. Because of this, Minor said, Residential Life, using input from residents concerning their actual use of the pool, decided it wasn’t necessary to preserve.

“I think students get really excited about it when they first see the pool,” Minor said. “Then once they experience what Missouri weather is like, they’re more like, ‘Yeah, we can use it for a couple of weeks in the fall and a couple of weeks in the spring.’”

Feedback such as this sprouted from meetings with Mark Twain’s hall government, Clemens Council. Minor said Residential Life met with the council three times over the past one and a half years.

Additional renovations include reducing and replacing the building’s elevators, as well as upgrading bathrooms.

Freshman Laura Willenbring, a resident of Mark Twain, said although she loves living in the building, she still sees areas in need of improvement. She said her biggest concern lies with the bathrooms, but she would also like to see bigger closets and quieter windows.

“Something I think that Twain could improve upon is the bathrooms,” Willenbring said. “They are pretty cramped, and the showers are old. But Twain is still a brilliant place regardless of the bad showers, lack of closet space and windows that creak.”

The project’s overall budget is $21.7 million, Minor said.

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