Students arriving on campus have noticed sweeping changes to some familiar spaces on campus, namely Tower Court West and Severance Halls. The dorm renovations, whose goals ranged from aesthetic upgrades to increased accessibility, will undoubtedly influence student life.
These renovations include a new heating system, which will both increase students’ comfort and help meet the College’s energy goals. Plumbing lines have been upgraded, as have the electrical wiring systems and the bathrooms and kitchenettes. Other renovations, such as Tower Court West’s new carpeting, were more aesthetic in motivation. The glass doors leading to the living room on the first floor of Severance marked a departure from its completely gothic inspiration towards a more modern architectural feel.
Isabella Basille ’26, a Tower West resident, weighs in on her first impression of the renovations.
“The first change that you notice when you walk in is that they’ve redone the carpet – it’s red.”
She also notes her appreciation for the aesthetic and functional renovations.
“I think some people in the past might’ve had to choose between wanting a clean-looking, newer-looking building, and I think that these renovations provide that while keeping the aesthetic intact,” she reflects.
Anna Ehrlich, the community director for Claflin and Severance Halls and Ceder Lodge, notes that the renovation was a years-long project. “The renovation itself was completed over two years with the bulk of the work being done over breaks and the summer, but it has been in planning for a few years prior to the beginning of the renovation,” Ehrlich explained.
The renovations, which were also aimed at increasing accessibility, include a new ramp on the first floor allowing students to move from Severance to the Tower Dining Hall.
“One of the biggest benefits of the Severance renovation is the fact that the building is now fully accessible. I’m pleased that all community members would be able to safely live here and be able to access common rooms, the dining hall, and the laundry room with much less difficulty than previously,” Ehrlich says.
This lengthy renovation process involved many conversations with Community Directors (CDs). Ehrlich describes CDs as “touchpoints” for the planners throughout the renovation planning process, as they understand the buildings and the needs of the students who live in these halls.
“I gave feedback about a few of the kitchen designs and some of the seating options in common spaces,” Ehrlich explained.
However, she clarified, “There is a team of professionals – architects, contractors, project managers – who know way more about this than I do, so ultimately, I trust their judgment.”
Cristi Aguilar-Vegas ’26, a residential assistant in Severance Hall, discussed their gauge on the student response to the renovations.
“I feel like most Sev residents are very happy with the renovations. There are a lot more functional common areas and they added some more kitchen areas,” Aguilar-Vegas said.
Basille also weighed in about her favorite part of the renovations.
“My personal favorite change has been what they did with the rooms. Being in my room now just feels like being in a nice clean space,” she notes.
Basille later noted that the newly renovated bathrooms are currently out of order, in the process of being repaired.
“We’re all using the same bathrooms for now, but that’s okay – things happen,” she says.
The renovations are also the start of more projects to come.
“We have a super cute new little courtyard area that’s going to become a community garden,” Aguilar-Vegas said.
Other residence halls will also soon be renovated, and Ehrlich is excited about the future of Tower Court.
“While the Severance renovation is more or less complete, there are always little tweaks being made here and there – we learn about these spaces as we live and interact with them. The bigger picture: Tower and Claflin are slated for major renovations this coming year, as are other buildings on campus!”