When upperclassmen return to the University of Arkansas at Monticello in August, those who lived in Bankston Hall and plan to live there again won’t recognize the building they left in May.
Built in 1968 as a men’s residence hall, the 45-year-old structure is getting a complete makeover this summer at a cost of $8.9 million. The project includes the construction of a new exterior façade and peaked roof as well as interior renovations that include a new heating and cooling system, refinished doors, new hardware, carpeting, wall coverings and ceilings. But the biggest change will come in the form of suite-style bathrooms which will allow four residents in adjoining rooms to share shower and toilet facilities with individual sinks for each room.
By doing away with outdated community bathrooms, the hall will gain an additional 75 beds, according to Scott Kuttenkuler, director of residence life. “When we developed the plan for Bankston Hall, we did it with the intent of meeting the expectations of today’s students for on-campus living,” he said. “Sharing community bathrooms is an outdated concept and unappealing to today’sstudents.”
According to Kuttenkuler, the renovation is part of a plan to change Bankston from a traditional dormitory to one featuring suite-style living space and more privacy for students. The hall will also change from exclusively male to coeducational. “We want to make living on campus a viable and attractive option for our students,” he noted.
The new suite-style bathrooms are being constructed as modules off site at warehouses owned by SeaArk Marine. The modules are being brought to campus and lifted into place on the outside of the existing building by crane. The exterior construction is expanding the building’s outer walls by 8 to 12 feet. SCM Architects of Little Rock designed the project with Kinco Contractors of Little Rock is handling the construction.
“Both the university and Kinco are appreciative of SeaArk Marine for making their warehouses available to us,” said UAM Chancellor Jack Lassiter. “By being able to complete much of the construction off site, we were able to keep Bankston open and occupied during the just-completed spring semester and stick to our timetable of having the new facility ready for occupancy in August.”
The Bankston renovation is the first phase of a long-term project to renovate and modernize other residence halls and improve the overall on-campus living experience. The second phase will focus on the renovation of bathrooms at Horsfall Hall with future plans for enlarging the University Dining Center.
“UAM currently has one of the lowest costs of living in residence halls of any public or private institution in Arkansas,” said Kuttenkuler “Our plan is to make on-campus living an important part of the UAM experience while still maintaining affordability.”
Director, UAM Media Services