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Schwitzer Hall’s deconstruction started late October, and the new residence hall to replace it will be similar to Fairview House, Executive Director of Facilities Rich Michal said.
“We’ve been looking at all of our housing for quite a while, and Ross has some of the same challenges Schwitzer had,” Michal said. “After some thinking, it would be too much to just renovate it [Schwitzer]. We want to provide something more like Fairview.”
The hall should be completed in July 2018.
Renovations to Schwitzer Hall would have included updating the elevator, making the building more accessible and putting in more outlets in all the rooms. The rooms would be 15 percent smaller, and the bathrooms would still be at end of the hallway.
Instead of spending $12 to 16 million to renovate the hall, Butler decided to redo the whole building.
Another option was to keep Schwitzer’s facade and building behind it; however, it would have been too big of a challenge to line up all the new windows with the original ones, according to Michal.
Michal said the plan is to move most of the new building closer to the street because there is so much space in front of the building. In doing so, the backlot drive will be dedicated to deliveries only. This will eliminate cars and create a multi-use path for students, making more of a green space very similar to the mall.
Schwitzer Hall will cost less than Fairview. The overall cost will be more than $20 million, as opposed to Fairview at around $40 million.
The new plan will have a community space that will be smaller than Fairview’s. Michal said the floor plan and the room configuration will be a suite like ResCo instead of a pod.
In an email, Butler President James Danko said the plan is to salvage equipment and materials from Schwitzer Hall for reuse in other locations on campus.
Michael said the Office of Operations went through the furniture in Schwitzer, including the desks, the beds, dressers and chairs, and saved all of the pieces that were in good condition to use in other facilities.
The Office of Operations then reached out to several non-profit charitable organizations, including Goodwill, so that they could take all of the furniture, meet their timeline and pick up the furniture accordingly.
Overall, the current plan is that the residence will be for all first-year students, along with ResCo. Schwitzer Hall might also have a new name by the time it is completed, but that is not decided yet.
The future of Ross Hall is also up in the air.
“It’s on the table right now,” Michal said. “We could use it for an academic building, a new Greek house or a dorm. We don’t know yet.”
Taylor Prechtel is a current sophomore who lived on the third floor of Schwitzer last year.
“I especially miss being a first-year student and having a hall with girls going through the same thing,” Prechtel said. “We had faculty-in-residence, which was also nice because they would pay for different events we went to. Once they paid for all of us to see the Nutcracker and to go get ice cream.”
She said the hall’s exterior looks nice because it matches the academic buildings, but she thinks it would also look good if Butler made it look the same as Fairview.
Priyanka Patel is a sophomore who stayed on the second floor of the once all-female dorm.
“I miss the aspect of knowing everyone, and our doors were always open and I met so many people through it,” Patel said. “[With] all the memories I had in there, it’s sad to see my first year’s home getting torn down.”
Patel explains her favorite memory living in Schwitzer Hall.
“We had a study hall in the basement and every unit would paint a different letter on a poster board and put it up on one of the walls,” Patel said. “We had so many letters and memories up there.”
Patel also said she thinks the exterior design of Schwitzer Hall looks neat, but looks forward to seeing what they will do with it.
“I think it’d be cool to see what else they have in mind,” Patel said. “I wouldn’t mind if it stayed the same but I want to see something different. I definitely think they should keep the single dorms though because it makes the college experience.”