IRC renovations to begin this summer

Updates include air conditioning and full bathroom remodels

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In addition to air conditioning, other updates include electrical, fire system, and Wifi upgrades, as well as complete bathroom remodels.

During its Sept. 16 meeting, the Board of Visitors approved a $16 million renovation proposal for the International Residential College as a part of the Capital Program.

The IRC is one of the University’s three residential colleges where students can apply annually to live in an integrated community with faculty and students. Housing more than 300 students, the IRC is comprised of 60 percent domestic and 40 percent international undergraduate students.

The coming renovations to the IRC are set to begin in May 2017 after the school year ends.

The renovations have been a topic on the agenda for a couple of years, Gay Perez, associate dean of students and executive director of Housing and Residence Life, said.

“Probably about two, two-and-a-half years ago we started talking, in our general course of discussion, about renovations, the timing of renovations and what specifically needs to be done,” Perez said.

Perez said the coming upgrades will include replacement and, in some cases, installment of HVAC units.

“It was determined that we wanted to air-condition [residence houses] Mary Munford and [Roberta] Gwathney, which is half the IRC,” Perez said. “The other half, Lewis-Hoxton, had been air-conditioned with a stand-alone chiller, maybe 20 years ago, and that … needed to be upgraded.”

Kevin Fay, chair of the BOV Buildings and Grounds Committee, said renovations also include electrical, fire system and Wi-Fi upgrades, as well as complete bathroom remodels.

“The bathrooms would be fully renovated [and] the utilities, so some will include upgrading the electrical and equipping Wi-Fi and that nature,” Fay said. “And some refreshing of the interior spaces and then improvements in the exterior of the buildings themselves [is needed].”

The renovations are projected to be completed by the end of the summer, Perez said, but may be staged over subsequent breaks if not finished before the 2017 fall semester.

“We are going to start and do our best to complete as much as we can this summer, but because we need all the bed spaces, there’s some work that might have to be done the following Christmas break or following summer,” Perez said.

Fay said no contractor has been hired for the project yet, but most of the work will likely be contracted out to several different firms.

“Given the disciplines, we’d probably have a general [contractor], but it’s kind of a bunch of disciplines, so a bunch of different contractors might be involved,” Fay said.

Perez said the aim is to open the bid for contractors in October.

“We’ve already completed the exterior work, like bringing the piping to the HVAC and upgrading the electrical, so now the major part will begin this summer,” Perez said.

Feedback from IRC residents regarding the now approved renovations was encouraging, Perez said.

“[Feedback has] been very positive — the students who live in the IRC love the community out there, and this is something that they’ve very positively received,” Perez said. “It’s time for those buildings to be fully air conditioned.”

Anne Marie Saunders, a second-year College student and IRC resident, said she is excited for the coming upgrades.

“The [air conditioning] units that are installed are not central [air conditioning] and have maintenance issues,” Saunders said in an email statement. “The kitchens and bathrooms in the IRC are not well ventilated, so they both can be pretty gross.”

Additionally, Fay said the BOV and University are looking ahead to the future in these upgrades and renovations for the IRC.

“That area is a real jewel of the Grounds, and the IRC area is also very open, so it has raised the idea of whether there might be additional residential opportunities in that area,” Fay said. “[There are] no plans anytime in the near future, but [we] clearly want to preserve that area and update it to modern standards.”

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