Renovation Celebration hits home

Carolyn Pippin

Forty-six years have passed since the last time Kent State renovated Tri-Towers in May 1968.

Tri-Towers commemorated the completion of the recent two-year-long construction process with a Renovation Celebration at the Circle Plaza Wednesday Oct. 15.

“We get to celebrate the kind of grand re-opening of residence halls that are your home, and had been the home of students for quite some time now,” President Beverly Warren said.

Students gathered around the circle to celebrate the completion of the Tri-Towers renovation milestone.

“I think it’s really exciting because it’s not so noisy anymore,” said Elizabeth Servick, a sophomore exploratory major.

Freshman environmental conservation biology major Kelly Nichols said her favorite part was the landscaping.

“I love that they planted more trees and the mulch they put down and all the new little plants they put out,” she said. “It looks really nice.”

Brie Jutte, president of Kent Interhall Council, said residence hall students spend about 15 hours in the class room each week.

“Those other hours are often spent in the residence hall, whether it’s pulling an all-nighter studying for an exam in your lounge or becoming lifelong friends with your next-door neighbor,” Jutte said.

Several things changed in Koonce, Leebrick and Wright halls since their last renovations.

The expansion of the buildings cost a total of $8 million in 1968, according to the Koonce-Leebrick-Wright Halls Dedication Program. The present-day renovations cost $39 million.

Annual room and board costs for Leebrick Hall in 1968 began at $939 and for Koonce and Wright Halls the price were set at $888, according to the program. Current room and board costs range from $3,108 to $3,626 for Wright and Koonce Halls, and $3,362 to $4,094 for Leebrick Hall, according to the university website.

The most recent renovations for Tri-Towers began in 2012 and include new carpet, painting, elevators and learning-community spaces. Lounges and kitchens were updated in Leebrick Hall, and in Koonce and Wright halls, sky lounges were added.

“The sky lounges offer a great place for the resident assistants to plan programs to build more community in the residence halls,” Jutte said. “In the rotunda, which is where the KIC office and academic success center tutoring is, is now more updated and a better working environment not only for us student leaders but for any students that are seeking academic help.”

Warren and Jutte also unveiled new plaques that will designate the new and vibrant Tri-Towers halls. The plaques say “Dedicated 1968” and “Renovated 2014.”

A decision had to be made about what to do with Tri-Towers as the buildings began to age, said Gregory Jarvie, vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs

“Either take the complex down or basically refresh or rehab the building,” Jarvie said. “And I’ve got to tell you, after I’ve seen the results I think we made the right choice, and no doubt we’ve kept the Tri-Towers alive.”

Warren said she agreed with Jarvie.

“Why tear down the jewel when we can give it a facelift and give you a home and a great space to live,” Warren said.

In 1968 the Tri-Towers buildings were dedicated after a student, Judith E. Koonce, President Karl Clayton Leebrick and Professor G. Harry Wright.

“When you live in the Tri-Towers you are living with the constituent groups that we call family here at Kent State,” Warren said. “It was an essential core of what we wanted to achieve was that you could feel that Tri-Towers gave you that sense of community.”

For the future of Tri-Towers, a few plans have been made.

“One of (the future plans) is that we’re looking to do a recreational satellite in Tri-Towers at some point down the road, do a central laundry for our students and continue to look at study spaces for our students as well,” Jarvie said. “The future is something we’re always going to be looking at.”

Contact Carolyn at [email protected].