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Wayne State Renovation of Pile Residence Hall Retains Historic Flair

Published: 1-13-2012 11:15 am

The latest Wayne State College makeover, Pile Residence Hall, includes some extreme changes while keeping students surrounded by history and tradition.
Wayne State College completed the renovation of Pile Hall in January, with students moving back into the residence hall on Jan. 13. Named for James Madison Pile, founder of Wayne State's predecessor Nebraska Normal College, the residence hall was originally built in 1932 at a cost of $142,500 (about $2 million in today's costs), including architect's fees, grading and landscaping. The final cost of the current renovation was $5.2 million.

The renovation project, which began in March 2011, included HVAC, electrical, fire life safety and ADA compliance. The college converted some typical two-person rooms to suite-style options for rooms in addition to upgrades for the two-person rooms, which included new sinks, refinished floors and new paint for most rooms. The suite-style rooms have a small entry leading to two rooms and a bathroom to share by those three to four occupants.

"The completely renovated residence hall retains its historic character and charm while providing the state-of-the-art facilities and security features that students desire," said Dr. Jeff Carstens, vice president and dean of students. "I think students will really like the 12 new semi-suites, the new recreation room, and all new room furniture as well as the convenience of the expanded main lobby, updated building entrances and elevator."

In addition to improving the rooms for residents, the front desk was moved and renovated, the building now has an expanded entry from the north (Anderson Drive), and there is a fully renovated recreation room in the lower level and new furniture throughout the building.

"We started in July working on the residence life perspectives during meetings. The recreation room will be a nice feature that we thought would be the kind of thing that the students would like. It gives the building a nice mix of activities to offer,'' said Heather Otto, assistant residence director.

The Nov. 9, 1931, Goldenrod student newspaper carried the announcement by President U. S. Conn that the new dormitory would be named in honor of James Madison (J. M.) Pile. Conn, who had come to know and respect Pile when he taught at the Nebraska Normal College in the 1890s, stated, "When the J. M. Pile Hall is completed and occupied, Wayne will easily stand at the head of all educational institutions in the west in the matter of modern, fire-proof housing facilities for its students. The new hall will be three stories in height and will accommodate 150 girls."

"Staff on the project paid a lot of attention to detail. I think it turned out great,” said Noelle St. Pierre, Wayne State College student from Papillion and resident assistant in Pile Hall. “Wayne State College has maintained the character while keeping the original feel. They also made the residence hall fashionable, yet not something that is going to go out of style. They kept a lot of the original aspects of the building, but still added new fun features like a student lounge in the lowest level. I am also glad to see that many features have accessibility details added because I feel it is important to keep access for all people in mind.''

Sarah Green of Omaha lived in the building prior to its renovation. She serves as a desk worker in the building and will live in one of the renovated rooms.

"I enjoyed living here before,” Green said. “Before the renovation, students planning to live here were asked for their ideas. I was one of the students who gave ideas and I am glad that I was able to offer my suggestions and be a part of this project.”

Andrea Toben and Tausha Lee, two roommates from Doniphan, moved from Berry Residence Hall to one of the renovated rooms.

"We're excited about moving in. I like the way the rooms are set up,'' Lee said. "I love the wood floors.''

"It is different to have a walk-in closet,'' said Toben, a transfer student from Doane College.

For a gallery of photos, please visit Wayne State's Facebook page on the Pile Hall Renovation



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