Out with the old, in with the new

Out with the old, in with the new

by Brandon Newell

As part of a continuing process to improve Simpson’s housing facilities, renovation of Barker Hall is set to begin as soon as residents empty out for the summer.

“We submitted the plans to the state and we will begin construction on the Monday following commencement,” said Bart Lane, director of campus services.

This project is the result of the cooperative efforts of Lane, Ken Birkenholtz, vice president of business and finance, Jim Thorius, dean of students, Stephanie Krauth, associate dean of students, and Marilyn Leek of the purchasing department.

“They’re doing a lot of great things,” said junior Nick Claussen, a resident assistant in Barker. “The new Barker image is going to look and smell better.”

According to Thorius, the upgrade of Barker Hall was a well-received idea.

“The college and the Board [of Trustees] came to a unanimous decision to make a commitment to improve conditions in the primary residential establishments,” said Thorius. “The plans issued indicate we’ll be done by next fall. Planning started in the middle of last fall by getting quotes from contractors so we that we will be able to get things done in three months.”

The primary co-contractors are two groups out of the Des Moines area, Air Con Mechanical and Graham Construction.

“The architect, Bill Dryer, has been contracted before with other projects around campus and has been received well,” said Lane.

With construction groups squared away and ready to get things going, the budget can be defined as a presumable cost.

“The overall budget for the renovations has an outlook of anywhere from 1.5 to 1.8 million dollars,” said Birkenholtz.

Now that various residential facilities have seen their share of face-lifts, Barker is now on deck.

“With the housing folks conducting surveys last year of what students would like in Kresge, that contributed largely to Kresge’s success,” said Lane. “In some sense we’re imitating Kresge for the Barker renovations.”

Next year’s residents in Barker can expect to see window replacements, central air, a new heating system, a face-lift in the bathroom, new furniture and carpet, and masonry work to the stonework outside.

“With Simpson largely considered a residential campus, where 80 percent of students live on campus, this project contributes significantly towards the Simpson experience in attaining the incoming students to help decide where they go to a college and where to get the overall satisfaction and commitment to a program,” said Thorius.

Birkenholtz echoed Thorius’ hopes of increasing enrollment through such projects.

“When the renovations are done on campus, they will be part of an attractive environment containing nicer and more functional living arrangements that contribute in recruiting and entertaining prospective students,” said Birkenholtz.

With the anticipation of the remodeling around the corner, students are glad to hear there is going to be a change.

“Ultimately, the new look for Barker will do a lot more to catch the attention of incoming students. Maybe now tours can go through here instead of trying to keep Barker out of the perspective’s eye,” said Claussen.

Barker’s future image also supports Simpson’s goal of taking a leadership role with its residence life.

“For a residential campus we have a very diverse living arrangement,” said Thorius. “Compared to other schools in the region we stack up well, especially after all primary facilities have been renovated. Other schools tend to be simulating us. “

Thorius hopes that such improvements will give returning students a reason to live in Barker next year.

“I can only hope students’ future responses about the work done are equal to or superior to the work in Kresge,” he said.