Aquinas opens new dorms

Amanda Boyer/Photography Editor

If it was not for the platinum-colored letters above the glass-and-brick vestibule spelling out its name of the building, you might not recognize the building across from the Diplomacy School as Aquinas Hall.
Instead of navigating through a makeshift entrance lined with blue tarps, chicken-wire fences and weathered scaffolding to check-in to a temporary front desk, residents of the recently completed Aquinas Hall arrived last month to find freshly cut grass and a walkway leading to a pristine façade that gives the once bland residence hall a brand new look and feel.
“It’s new, but I think it still has that same character that is Aquinas,” Aquinas Residence Hall Director Joshua Reda said.
Renovations on Aquinas Hall were completed late this summer, with a Certificate of Occupancy being authorized Aug. 18, according to Director of Housing and Residence Life Tara Hart.
A fourth floor has been added as well as a new four-story “block,” resulting in the addition of 64 suites and roughly 140 beds for the fall 2014 semester. A pair of elevators has been installed, along with new carpeting, new lighting, fresh paint and all new-furnishings within each of the dorm rooms.
Those entering the building will notice the change immediately. The automatic doors are complient with the American Disability Act and lead into a glass enclosed lobby separating the entrance and exit for proper traffic flow.
There is a wide stairway that leads to a lounge area with built-in high-back wooden benches and a seating area featured on each of the floors.
Reda said the changes have been drastic.
“I think overall it’s great,” he said. “It’s just brighter and friendlier.”
Hart said about 80 students who braved the many issues related to last year’s construction opted to return to Aquinas. Many of them have taken residence on the fourth floor. Originally, the new floor was going to house students from the Honors Program and the Stillman Business Leadership Development Honors Program. However, those students were moved to the third floor.
Sophomore biology major Madeline Wilson, who lives on the fourth floor now after residing on the third floor last year, said the contrast between the old Aquinas and the new Aquinas’s immediately noticeable.
“It used to be really creepy,” Wilson said. “It looks a lot nicer and cleaner now. As much as we complained last year they did a good job of getting it done.”
Dorm room doors and doorframes are color-coded—yellow, green and blue—to better help students locate different areas of the building. This was also done in an effort to create a better sense of community in Aquinas, Hart said.
Third floor Resident Assistant J.P. de Legarreta said at first there were issues with students mistreating some of the new study rooms, but the culture was quickly changed.
“The kids seem to be taking the whole ‘only the finest live in Aquinas’ thing seriously, which is something we have tried to incorporate,” he said.
One of the biggest changes in the way students live in the dorm, Reda noted, was the use of the new study lounges, located at each corner of the dorms on every floor.
“I walk around at the end of the day and (the residents) are studying or watching TV,” he said. “They are not just in their rooms, they are being more social.”
Clayton Collier can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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