The future of suites: Replace or renovate?

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The future of suites: Replace or renovate?

Maui Viola, Staff Reporter

The future of the most cost-sensitive living options for Lakeland residents and the traditional camping grounds for Greek Life organizations is in question. 

Built in 1966, the Friedli and Hofer suites are currently housing up to 82 students and six Greek Life organizations. The suites are favored in the area of affordability and are frequently utilized by summertime live-in students. 

Chief Operating Officer Richard Haen explained that improving residence life is a high priority for Lakeland officials, so they are gauging their options for most buildings on campus. 

“The suites and some of our older housing units like A.M. Krueger, Muehlmeier and Grosshuesch—we are evaluating with an assistant of an architect to determine what to do with those buildings,” Haen stated. “They are between 50 and 60 years old. They need to be renovated. They need to be updated. We’re trying to determine if we are better off replacing them versus renovating.” 

Regarding the suites specifically, plans are somewhat more concrete. “They had a lot of issues over the years,” Haen said. “More likely, they will get replaced as part of this project.” 

According to Haen, no funding is in place for the pending project. However, Haen said that the evaluation process will end around February of 2019, at which point a final decision will be made. 

Problems in the suites stem from both interior and exterior issues: concrete damage, an aged boiler system, no air conditioning and out-of-date plumbing and wiring. These current problems are considered mainly because of the students and their health. 

Coordinators are considering costs and analyses of student demands to find the best balance for students and faculties. Haen listed the resources being used such as architect advice, construction company ideas and student surveys sent through email to make the right decision. 

Ideas for improvement include an “all-in-one” model that would feature accessible health and security services, additional kitchen space, lab and activity rooms and a lobby. Interim Director of Residence Life Michaela Smith emphasized the benefits of having a large lobby space such as promoting communication between students. 

Another idea raised by Smith was non-communal bathrooms, calling “a larger support for gender neutrality and representation of the LGBTQ+ community” a reason for the reduction of communal bathrooms. 

In regard to the effort, Smith believes that strengthening communication by being open minded and being proactive with students allows for a more productive connection between students and the top faculties of Lakeland. Smith ended the conversation by explaining this relationship as a “gateway to the higher-ups.” 

Buildings outside of Friedli and Hofer are still in question. Haen specifically highlighted Grosshuesch. “The university did an exercise about a year ago to see what would it cost to renovate Grosshuesch, and it exceeded replacement value by the time they addressed everything,” Haen said. 

Smith, noting that Grosshuesch is already “offline” and “gutted,” predicts that the building will come down after the suites project. 


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