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White Hall Classroom Building to undergo $80 million renovation

White Hall Classroom Building

White Hall Classroom Building will be under reconstruction for two years, from the summer of 2024 until the summer of 2026. 

The budget will be $80 million in total, according to Kevin R. Locke, the associate vice president of planning/designing/construction for UK Facilities Management.

He clarified that this is an estimated number and is still under revision. 

“We won’t truly know what the actual cost of construction will be until the project decides to move forward,” Locke said. 

Locke’s team received the asset preservation money from the state, and it was approved by UK President Eli Capilouto and legislators, according to the Capital Management Construction office.

“It was interesting …when we were talking about this project in Frankfort to some legislators, many of them remembered being in classes themselves at White Hall, and they were like ‘Thank God you are doing something with this building,’” Locke said.

The research process before the project was designed was based on White Hall’s concerning performance in the Facility Condition Index, according to Locke.

“So you look at the age of the building, you look at the life of the equipment on the inside of the building, and White Hall Classroom Building was one of the lowest performers on campus,” Locke said.

To address the matter, the renovation aims to provide improvements inside the classrooms and in the hallways, on all four levels. 

“We are going to vastly increase the amount of collaboration space … and we are planning on pushing out some of the glass on the first level, pushing it out a little bit more to create more space for collaboration,” Locke added.

The main purpose is to create an open and natural space that is more comfortable for students.

Locke said that they are going to be looking at new finishes, new HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems and adjusting the MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) equipment. They are also planning to bring more daylight into the classrooms.

According to Locke, the project will take a long time to be renovated since the White Hall Classroom Building has not had any renovations in the last 50-plus years.

Moreover, based on White Hall’s Square Footage Index, the building does not offer the same amount of space as others on UK’s campus. Construction will take a long time to readjust it to seem as wide as other classroom buildings. 

“In White Hall Classroom, about 15 square feet per student is allocated. That is roughly low, and most classroom buildings are right around 22 square feet, and that provides more collaboration and things like that … so it’s a very extensive renovation,” Locke said.  

UK students are used to seeing construction on campus, impacting their walks on a day-to-day basis. 

“Hopefully, it’s two years of pain but it provides many, many, many years of joy,” Locke said.

According to Locke, a possible negative reaction to one more construction on campus has already been discussed with their team and they have come to a solution for this issue.

“We are planning on taking the entire building out of commission from the students’ standpoint. So you won’t have students and construction mixing together, which I think is gonna be a much safer condition,” Locke said.

Shea McGohon, a freshman student majoring in sociology, predicted how other students might react to this construction. 

“I feel like it can be a mix of a lot of things if people have been here for a long time and see which change they might either love or hate, but with the new students coming in, I don’t know if they will have a lot of an opinion,” McGohon said. 

Other students like Levi Dickey, a sophomore majoring in nursing, believe renovating White Hall should not be a priority. 

“I would renovate the inside of Chem-Phys (Chemistry-Physics Building). The outside looks really nice, but the inside classrooms have ceiling problems and mold as well as AC issues. The inside is straight from the 1970s,” Dickey said. 

KeeShawn Murphy, a graduate student studying English, shared thoughts on the positive side of the renovation, especially for incoming freshmen at the time of completion.

“Seniors or graduate students probably will just want to be finishing up, and won’t really care if that (renovation) happens, but for first-years, they would love to have it because they will be here to experience it,” Murphy said. 

According to Locke, more formal steps will be taken before officially having a final design of what the renovation will look like.

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