By any standard, Residence Services renovation of Mayflower Residence Hall is a complicated project. Mayflower is The University of Iowas largest residence hall, with 1,024 student residents. The project includes replacing the eight-story buildings roof over two summers and installing a new fire suppression system throughout the building, which should be completed by December 1999. Residence Services also is making extensive changes to Mayflowers entrance, lobby, office, and desk areas.
Now imagine getting that kind of project done on time without disturbing hall residents, parents staying at Mayflower during orientation, and people attending the Summer Writing Workshops. Its an interesting planning process.
"Just as one example, we cant start most work on the project before 9 a.m. when school is in session, because we cant wake the students," says Jeff Roepsch, hall manager. "During the week of finals in May, all construction came to a halt so students could study. Mayflower is a hall that never closes, open 365 days a year, so theres really no good way to do this large a project."
But a visitor strolling through the heart of the lobby construction notices that floor-to-ceiling barricades around active construction sites keep both noise and dust to a minimum. Students study in a quiet room less than 20 feet from workers who are installing a dividing door in a new multipurpose room.
"We knew we had to replace the roof and install the new fire suppression system at Mayflower," says Maggie Van Oel, director of Residence Services. "Weve also wanted to rearrange things in the lobby, because Mayflower has wonderful floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the Iowa River. Until now, the area near the windows was all offices, so students couldnt see the river views very well."
She points to a large area near the windows on the lobbys north side. "Now well have a coffee house here, with a coffee bar against the wall, a terrazzo floor, and tables and chairs looking out over the lobby," she says. "Tables and chairs will sit under an awning, creating an outdoor restaurant ambiance inside the building. The coffeehouse area will have an industrial ceiling, with exposed pipes painted bright colors."
Van Oel leads the tour behind the "coffee house" area into the construction zone. "This will be a recreation room with a pool table, ping pong table, video games, and television. All the furniture that has been in the lobby will be relocated in the new lobby," she says.
At the back of the building, where a long-unused swimming pool used to be, the multipurpose room will give student groups a place to have presentations and large group meetings.
Van Oel hops over copper pipe on the floor of that room to get to windows on one side that look out on exposed rock cliffs and woods. She points to a weedy, construction-littered parking area along one side. "Right in there were going to have a bike rack for 136 bicycles, which we really need," she says. "It will look so much better than whats here now."
She leads the tour back into the lobby area, pointing out The Mayflower Market, a convenience store, currently tucked away in an inconspicuous corner near a long line of soda machines. The market soon will have a big glass window into the lobby.
"The new front desk area is very extensive, near the front door. Nearby offices have a glass window looking into the desk area, so the employees in those offices can come out and assist students if the desk becomes busy," Van Oel says.
"And there is an automatic teller machine, stamp machine, a place for students to drop off linens and pick up new ones, new mailboxes, an enlarged entrance and sidewalk area outside, two e-mail terminals available 24 hours a day near the desk, a full computer center ."
"Have we mentioned the roller-coaster?" quips Chris Galbreath, president of MAYCO, the student organization.
Van Oel laughs, but adds, "Our goal in all of this is to serve our customers just as well as we possibly can. I just cant wait to see this completed."
Article by Anne Tanner