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Upgrading McDowell

McDowell Hall sports a new reception desk.

Photo by Patrick Bradley

Residents settling in to McDowell Hall can consider their address a little more prestigious this year. After extensive renovations and changes, their building features changes which set them apart on campus.

McDowell Hall, built in 1962, has received a much need facelift. An all sophomore living-learning community, McDowell saw renovations this summer that ended the very week residents could start to move in. Residence Director Matt LaBrasseur got his office in place just as students arrived. He’s watched the improvements from start to finish.

“The building’s been renovated a few times since it opened, but nothing as extensive,” he says. “Everything else has been small surface changes.”

McDowell’s 450 occupants can enjoy new, modern facilities and amenities. The building sports a fresh coat of paint inside, new tile floors in the lobby, and modern furniture throughout. The formal lounge has been transformed into a light, open and airy meeting space with up-to-date technology, while each floor’s lounge features new kitchen appliances, a flat screen TV, new furniture, and carpeting.

As part of AU’s commitment to sustainability, all of the improvements – from the high efficiency appliances to the recycled wallpaper and carpet – were made with the environment in mind.

“Everything was done with that idea. Everything either could be recycled, came from recycled material, or had the highest post-consumer waste content that could be utilized,” LaBrasseur says.

The rooms themselves offer refinished wall units, solar blinds, updated technology hook ups, new furniture, and brand new mattresses. Students will also benefit from new HVAC (heating ventilation and air-conditioning) units in every room.

With these changes, McDowell – now an all-sophomore building – will find itself stepping away from a history of nicknames. Newly installed ventilation systems in every hallway improve the quality of air throughout the building. Student-given nicknames like “McDank” and “McFoul” should disappear to the continued circulation of fresh air.

“The most notable changes were very cosmetic,” LaBrasseur says, “but the bigger changes were the updated heating and cooling systems and the ventilation systems for the hallways. They were the most time-consuming and costly, but the most necessary and beneficial as well.”

Also, residents can sleep soundly with the building’s increased security measures in place. Students have to use their AU ID cards to enter McDowell’s front door, access the elevator or stairs, and enter their rooms.

While change can be hard to accept, McDowell’s renovations have sparked nothing but enthusiasm from its new residents, and Matt LaBrasseur is all smiles about that fact.

“So far, the students that have moved in love the place,” he says. “I haven’t had a single negative comment.”


To check out the honorable changes in neighboring Hughes Hall, click here.