By Jesse Lewis
WILL SEBERGER/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Undeclared freshman Jessica Penner catches up on e-mail in her dorm room in Yuma Hall yesterday. Penner's room was refurbished over the summer.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, August 26, 2004
The renovations made to the Gila and Yuma residence halls over the summer provided fall residents with more living room, better study areas and a better use of space.
The halls, located on North Campus Drive, have identical floor plans had not been renovated in almost 20 years.
Gila and Yuma now have 80 new and refurbished resident spaces. Gila has an exercise room and Yuma a library.
Jim Van Arsdel, Residence Life director, said that the entire plumbing system was replaced, something the halls needed desperately.
"Basically the bathrooms look new and are new functionally," he said.
The halls feature community bathrooms that have been completely resurfaced and now accommodate all of the residents in a more comfortable manner. Stalls have been added to some of the bathrooms and the showers are more spacious.
"Its absolutely fabulous. The guys' showers actually have hot water," Ananda Mohan Das, a Gila resident, said.
A mural was painted to spruce up the atmosphere in the main lobby of each hall. Both paintings were done by local artists and feature a desert landscape. Murals by Jos painted Gila's artwork and Annie Margarita designed Yuma's.
Debbie Hanson, project and environmental coordinator for Residence Life, designed the changes made to the halls.
"They hadn't been renovated in about 17 years. It was time to freshen them up and give them a new look," she said.
Some of the unused common spaces in the halls were either turned into bedrooms or more efficient study and social spaces, said Hanson.
Hanson met last year with the hall staff to decide on new floor plans.
Both halls have an entertainment room with a pool table and TVs. Gila's library, which had one shelf of books before, is now an exercise room with a treadmill, a couple stair climbing machines, barbells and stretching mats.
"It's a lot more up-to-date and fun because we didn't have a pool table last year," said Kyle Tiemeier, Yuma resident.
"The game room is a pretty popular area to go," Tiemeier said.
Instead of an exercise room, Yuma opted for a more extensive library.
The study areas in the halls are much more user-friendly, with big tables and practically sound-proof rooms for talkative students and study groups.
Cat Botello, hall director of Gila, is new to the hall but happy she could come into such a nice new building.
"I consider myself very lucky to come into a hall that just underwent renovations. I like that Gila is an older building and that they could balance the new, but still keep it funky," she said.
Returning residents in the halls were also pleased with what they saw when they moved in a few days ago.
"It's beautiful; we are high tech," said Liz Fausett, a Gila resident.
The desk assistants are also very pleased with the renovations.
The mailboxes were moved to a wall so students could access them with keys. Before, desk assistants would hand out mail to residents when they asked for it.
The construction was not complete when the RAs were supposed to move in for training, so they moved in at the same time as residents last week.
Some of the furniture has not yet arrived, but it should be here in the next week or two, Hanson estimated.
"It will all look nice and new once all the new furniture gets here," Hanson said.