University Housing is installing elevators in the Tucker and Owen residence halls, in order to improve accessibility for its residents. The project is estimated to cost $2 million and the elevators will receive their final inspection on Dec. 21 with the projection to be usable next semester, which begins Jan. 19.
Barry Olson, associate vice chancellor for Division of Academic and Student Affairs (DASA), said NC State had plans to install elevators in Tucker and Owen as early as 2003 but didn't have the public interest or finances to do so. However, NC State learned which buildings needed renovations for improved accessibility in a 2009 survey. This encouraged campus officials to move forward with renovations.
Abinadi Ehrisman, assistant director of DASA facilities, said NC State is committed to make buildings more accessible. He noted various examples in the past, including renovating the bathrooms in Tucker and Owen residence halls and widening doorways for wheelchair users.
According to Donna McGalliard, executive director of University Housing, there had to be adjustments made to the Tucker and Owen residence halls due to the new elevators.
“One residential room [and] two beds, where students would typically live, will be closed because that’s being converted to mechanical room space,” McGalliard said. “The elevator entrances will actually open into the lobbies or lounges on each floor of those buildings … but otherwise, you really shouldn’t see a tremendous amount of big changes to the building, other than obviously the exterior.”
McGalliard said there has been a shift in priorities on what needs to be fixed in residence halls and whether the funding is available. According to Olson, DASA reported there were limited resources while working on accessibility renovations in residence halls. Despite these obstacles, Olson stated NC State is interested in adding elevators to Alexander and Turlington residence halls when the resources are available.
McGalliard said another problem with renovating buildings is matching the surrounding architecture. Many DASA officials have worked with other NC State offices, including architecture and capital projects offices, to make sure the renovations blend in with existing buildings.
Despite the challenges faced, McGalliard said NC State and University Housing will continue to make adjustments to its buildings, so all students can easily access them.