Facilities Planning and Management staff briefed Student Senate on State Hall renovations during a virtual meeting Thursday.
Thursday’s meeting was moved to a virtual format due to increased campus COVID-19 restrictions announced by President M. Roy Wilson in an email to the campus community on Nov. 30. Due to technical difficulties, the meeting was not live-streamed or posted online.
Senate held a moment of silence for victims of the Oxford High School shooting at the beginning of the meeting, which Senate President Sailor Mayes called for.
A 15-year-old student was charged with killing four students and injuring seven others on Nov. 30, according to The Detroit News. The case is ongoing.
Dean of Students David Strauss said he commended Senate for acknowledging the Oxford High School tragedy.
“It’s beyond tragic. There is no definition,” Strauss said. “I’m sure that some, or many, or all of you know somebody in the Oxford community…Hang in there. Things are kind of, things are not happy right now.”
FPM Facilities Planner Sean Campbell said state hall renovations are still in the schematic stage, attempting to navigate code compliance specifications and various accessibility concerns.
“The building (State Hall) has got great potential in terms of architectural allowances,” Campbell said. “The rooms clearly have a lot of work to be done to bring it up to modern day standards of comfort and learning (and) collaboration.”
Campbell said FPM will implement more inclusive amenities to State Hall as part of the renovations.
“The plan is to definitely have gender inclusive bathrooms in this building (State Hall) and I think, as a whole, we want to have that across campus and all the new construction," Campbell said.
Ashley Flintoff, FPM director of planning and space management, said that despite State Hall’s building design, FPM is optimistic about its push for gender inclusive facilities.
“We have some constraints with the existing building and the geometry of it, but right now we’re looking to and we’re pretty confident we’ll be able to include a gender inclusive restroom on every floor,” Flintoff said.
Campbell said FPM also plans to add reflection rooms to State Hall through the renovations.
“As far as the reflection rooms and the wellness rooms, we engaged with the Muslim Student Association a couple weeks ago and got their feedback …. there will be a space dedicated for those purposes,” Campbell said.
Campbell said FPM is working to give the most square footage per student possible in State Hall classrooms and lecture halls.
“Right now we are at 17.3 square feet per student which is kind of low,” he said. “It doesn’t allow for a lot of fluidity and moving around.”
Campbell said FPM aims for about 25 square feet per student in smaller first-floor classrooms to allow for greater collaboration. The square footage will be different for larger spaces.
One of the largest design challenges is the issue of disability accessibility in State Hall's larger rooms, specifically Room 101, Campbell said.
“We would need to make some interventions to make this much more accessible to those who are physically impaired, the slope (in room 101) is not adequate at this point,” Campbell said. “We looked at ADA compliance (of) installing a (wheelchair) lift so that you can enter from behind the chalkboard as opposed to creating a ramp.”
The design plan also includes the installation of study areas and break rooms, to take advantage of unused areas throughout State Hall, Campbell said.
Campbell said FPM will also update heating and cooling infrastructure in State Hall.
“This renovation project includes a full replacement and repair of existing building systems, so mechanical, electrical, plumbing are going to be completely overhauled,” Campbell said.
Student Senate will reconvene for the winter 2022 semester in January 2022.
Amelia Benavides-Colón is the news editor for The South End. She can be reached at email@example.com.