In just 85 days, Rex Beach Hall went from being a slightly run-down old building to a newly renovated, eco-friendly home to 42 first-years. It seems that every student has heard some sort of horror story regarding the dormitory, but those tales are a thing of the past. The facilities department did what it calls a “comprehensive renovation,” which involved replacing all of the electrical systems and plumbing, and rebuilding the original infrastructure.
Scott Bitikofer, a self-proclaimed energy conservationist and director of Campus Facilities, ensured the building be renovated in a manner as environmentally friendly as possible. He worked with several other groups to add six solar panels along the roof of the building that use the heat from the sun to warm the water (do not worry though; there is a backup plan for cloudy days!). The residence hall has new LED lights, which are more efficient than fluorescent lighting. In addition, Facilities has worked hard to provide as much new landscaping as possible.
Two years ago, there were some sewage problems in the bathrooms, but new bathrooms have been installed, some of which are handicap accessible. Additionally there is new closet space, an improved classroom and a stronger roof. However, Bitikofer was most excited about the occupancy sensors that are slowly being added throughout campus. These sensors detect whether someone is in a room and if the lights are on. If they detect an empty room, the sensors shut the lights off, conserving energy.
Some wonder why it took so long for Rex to be updated, but as Bitikofer said, “We look at technology for years before rolling it onto campus.” He said some of the things added to Rex have been tested for years now, such as the waterless urinals now in use throughout the hall. Facilities’ goal is to focus on where the need is greatest and do the best job they can, even if it means waiting until the preferred technology is perfected.
In regard to some of the previous perceptions of the building, upperclassmen have downplayed their negativity, remaining loyal to their first home away from home. Kevin Scarlett ’13, a Rex Beach RA, loves the changes, but was adamant that the hall was not as bad as others supposed. Sophomore Angela Stobaugh agreed, saying it “definitely wasn’t as cute or clean as the others,” but it “had character.”
Junior Ramona Snowden, who lived in Rex during the sewage problems, was just as enthusiastic about her old residence.
“Even though the facilities weren’t great, I loved it,” Snowden said. The general consensus from past Rex Beach residents seems to be that despite its failings, the hall has always focused on community, with not even malfunctioning plumbing able to dampen their feelings. “Most horror stories came from people who didn’t live there,” Snowden insisted. Based on the comments from Rex veterans, this sentiment seems true.
Bitikofer seems as pleased with the finished product as the students, saying, “Hopefully we have a building that will serve its students for many decades to come.”