Major changes are coming to on-campus living at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. UAM has received approval from the UA Board of Trustees to begin a two-phase renovation and construction project that will bring both exterior and interior changes to current residence halls.

UAM received approval to spend $8.9 million on the project, which will begin in February with the construction of a new exterior façade and roof for Bankston Hall, currently a men’s residence hall slated to become a coed residential facility. The construction will increase the building’s square footage while allowing for the addition of suite-style bathrooms to be shared by two two-person suites.

Interior renovations, which will begin at the conclusion of the 2013 spring semester, include a new heating and cooling system, refinished doors, new hardware, carpeting, wallcoverings and ceilings. By turning current community bathrooms into additional bedrooms, the hall will gain an additional 75 beds, according to Scott Kuttenkuler, director of residence life. “Much of this project is about meeting the expectations of students for on-campus living,” he explained.  “The concept of sharing community bathrooms is outdated and not appealing to today’s students. We are changing the atmosphere at Bankston from the traditional dormitory approach to one featuring suite-style living space that allows for more privacy. We want to make living on campus a viable and attractive option for our students.”

The exterior construction will bring about a dramatic change to the building’s appearance. Built in 1968, Bankston Hall currently features a flat-roof and no variations to the outer walls. The new façade will create a peaked and gabled roof with three extruding wings to both the north and south elevations. The exterior construction will expand the building’s outer walls by 8 to 12 feet.  All bathrooms will be located along the outer walls with current exterior windows converted to bathroom doorways. Each suite will have its own sink while sharing a toilet and shower.  No more than four people will share each bathroom.

SCM Architects of Little Rock was selected for the project along with Kinco Contractors, also of Little Rock. Bankston will be occupied during the spring semester while exterior construction is completed.  Interior work will begin a soon as students move out at the conclusion of the 2013 spring semester.  University officials plan to have all renovation and construction completed in time for the beginning of the 2013 fall semester.

The second phase of the housing project will focus on renovating the bathrooms at Horsfall Hall, originally a women’s residence hall constructed in 1934 and one of the campus’ most iconic structures. Bathrooms will be converted to spa style, according to Kuttenkuler, increasing their size while allowing for more privacy and a greater level of comfort.

Another part of the project still in the planning stages will be to enlarge the University Dining Center to allow for an increase in on-campus student population.

“UAM currently has one of the lowest costs of living in residence halls of any public or private institution in Arkansas, but our current facilities do not meet our students’ expectations,” said Kuttenkuler. “That is why we are undertaking this ambitious and much-needed project.”

UAM Chancellor Jack Lassiter said each phase of the project is driven by the needs of current and future students. “Everything we’re doing and planning to do is with our students in mind,” said Lassiter. “We are giving them what they want while maintaining our affordability. I want to commend the members of our residence life task force – Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jay Hughes, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Jay Jones, and Scott Kuttenkuler, our director of residence life – for their work and their vision in making this project a reality.”