Renovation creates a new community

September 22, 2011

Indiana State University's Pickerl Hall has come a long way since it opened in 1963. Once a women's residence hall, it's now a contemporary co-ed facility housing 230 students enrolled in the University Honors Program.

After undergoing a year-long renovation, the 64,700-square-foot residence hall greeted students with amenities such as private baths, individually-controlled heating and air conditioning systems, walk-in closets and full wireless service. On the first floor, residents can now enjoy a spacious lounge area, vending, mail and laundry facilities. Located on the lower level are three technology-equipped programming rooms and a standard conference room, which will host a variety of social, educational and student success programs. Hall staff offices are located on the first floor, along with the offices of the University Honors Program and an Honors Program seminar room.

"I'm enjoying the new Pickerl Hall," said Greg Bierly, director of the University Honors Program. "We have a third of students enrolled in the Honors Program living under one roof, which has to be a first for the program. It is rewarding to see the students doing things together, such as working on class projects, going to eat or attend campus activities. There's a real sense of community."

The 48-year old six-story building was given a total overhaul with a new facade and low-E windows which resulted in increased energy efficiency.

"The building wasn't totally gutted," Rex Kendall, director of Residential Life, said. "We wanted to be sustainable and environmentally conscious. Existing walls were reused when applicable and we reclaimed as much of the building materials as possible during the renovation process."

Improvements to the heating and cooling system, water pumps, lighting and appliances were made to become more energy efficient. Two elevators, original to the building, were removed and replaced with a belt-driven unit, which provides a smoother ride while using less energy. Entrances were equipped with sliding doors and a keycard-access system.

Energy-efficient design can be pleasing to the eye. Unique to Pickerl Hall is the new split-level northwest entry to the building off of 5th Street - windows enveloping the corner of the building from top to bottom, providing a unique lounge/study space on residential floors and a naturally-lit front desk area.

"The lounge area on each floor in Pickerl Hall is a perfect place for students to work but also socialize and meet their floor mates," said Rachel Hand, junior speech language pathology major.

"Pickerl is the right size hall to give students a sense of community. Just like Sandison Hall, it's an excellent example of how academic affairs and residential life can integrate learning in and out of the classroom," Kendall said. "It provides students in the University Honors Program a true learning environment."

According to Kendall, director of Residential Life, the renovation of Pickerl takes living and learning to the next level while complementing recent renovations to Burford and Sandison halls.

"Pickerl is part of the ongoing plan to enhance campus and improve on-campus housing," Kendall added. "Student response to the renovation has been very positive."

"I had high expectations," said Alexia Curley, a freshman criminology and criminal justice major. "I wanted everything to be first-class, which it is. I really enjoy how staff can have casual chats with students and students are able to interact with each other without having that awkward, professional feeling."

Upperclassmen who have lived in other halls on campus also appreciate what Pickerl has to offer.

"I love the mixed community of different majors, talents, and aspirations in Pickerl. My friends in the Honors Program are now all here under one roof as well as the newest members to our society making it a pretty well-balanced and enthusiastically-charged atmosphere," said Renee Buettner, a junior nursing major.

Bierly has noticed increased attendance at Honor events, between 50-70%, and thinks it may be due to Pickerl's renovations which encourage living and learning as a community.

Jocelyn Gregg, a junior nursing major and a Resident Assistant in Pickerl has also noticed increased activity and energy within the building.

"A large majority of our residents are extremely active on their floors and among the building," Gregg said. "They are excited to be involved in our building's Leadership, Engagement, Activities and Fun Committee. I have never been more excited about my job as a Resident Assistant; these students make me look forward to holding programs and attending L.E.A.F meetings with them."

 

Writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications and Marketing, 812-237-3783 or paula.meyer@indstate.edu