Residence hall prepares $1.8 million air conditioning unit

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A hallway in Dunbar Hall.

Samantha Farland

The installment of air conditioning for Dunbar Hall will start Monday, May 13.

David Taylor, the director of housing operations, said the goal is to be able to provide both heating and cooling in Dunbar Hall for the 2019 fall semester.

Faculty in the residential community are making sure the needs of the students are accommodated.

“With the temperatures that happened last year, we realized that this is something that we couldn’t put on the back burner any longer,” said Mason Lee Branham, the RHD of Dunbar and Prentice Hall. “We had a lot of students last year complain about it, and rightfully so.”

Students avoided spending time in their dorms in the warmer months of the year.

“In the beginning of the year, some people would sleep in the lounge because of how hot it was,” freshman exploratory major Caitlyn Shriver said.

Although not usually encouraged, students were allowed by RA’s and residential communities faculty to sleep in the first floor lounge if conditions were unbearable.

Ice cream parties were held, and it brought a sense of community to Dunbar Hall − the best was made of a not so great situation, Branham said.

Residential faculty will oversee the installment of the project to ensure its timely completion.

“There’s work already happening right now in preparation to have the project happen as quickly as possible with tying into those other systems,” Taylor said.

In the last few weeks, construction has taken place underground on Midway Drive in order to provide cold water for the air conditioning and to connect Dunbar with the other systems of air conditioning, Taylor said.

There will be a thermostat and air conditioning unit built into the corner of the dorm rooms, similar to other residence halls that currently have air conditioning, Taylor said.

Residence halls on campus were initially constructed without air conditioning.

Dunbar was built in 1959 and the first hall with air conditioning wasn’t built until 1964, Taylor said.

“With the increase of enrollment (from) 2001-2010 there was a push for air conditioning for the dorms,” University Architect Michael Bruder said. “The buildings were then majorly renovated after 45 years, in stages, with a residence hall master plan.”

Verder Hall will be the last residence hall left without air conditioning.

“Verder is shown in the Master Plan as being replaced in a future phase, so we are unlikely to invest in air conditioning for that building,” Bruder said.

The air conditioning installment in Dunbar Hall will be a significant improvement for its future residents.

“I’m beyond excited to have this project go forward,” said Mason Lee Branham, the RHD of Dunbar and Prentice Hall. “It’s definitely something that we’ve needed to happen for a long time.”

Samantha Farland covers construction. Contact her at [email protected]