Sittner Hall renovation projects and sinks

Sittner Hall has served Walla Walla University durably since 1946 and we are excited to announce a comprehensive renovation planned for this summer. WWU representatives and students have together sifted through many renovation details, focusing on priorities, and making decisions relative to WWU’s renovation budget and construction timeline. 

One of those decisions is to remove the old sinks from each Sittner Hall room, prompting many questions.

Why would the university remove sinks from the residence hall rooms?

  1. Renovation time frame. The university has a window of opportunity to improve Sittner Hall this summer (prior to the beginning of the 2020 school year), and to accommodate the renovation in a timely manner we are not able to facilitate sinks in each room.
  2. Cost. Our goal is to keep student debt low while offering as many residence hall amenities as possible, well into the future, which includes considering ongoing maintenance. Sittner Hall residents frequently complain about temperature control; to address these common complaints, we especially planned for the project and our limited budget to include new air conditioning and heating systems, which students identified as the primary renovation priority.
  3. Industry standards. Our project teams engaged with a nationally-known company that specializes in higher education facility planning to ensure a comprehensive renovation plan that incorporates best practices from campuses across the nation. We learned that many new residence halls are no longer being built with sinks in each room, and renovations rarely include sinks in each room, due to hygiene, maintenance and cost concerns. Industry standards have moved in this direction, and even new residence hall construction right here in Walla Walla has followed this same trend.
  4. Maintenance. Students routinely report sink back-ups, leaking, flooding and malfunctions that are not sanitary and cannot be addressed through a simple renovation. To accomplish a renovation within our budget and still accommodate improved temperature control systems and other needs, the university chose to abandon the old clogged and worn-out pipes to each room, and to centralize new plumbing.
  5. Hygiene. New plumbing will have less risk of unsanitary back-ups, leaking and malfunctions, and by centralizing new plumbing facilities the university will be able to ensure daily commercial-standard cleaning services.

How were students involved in the planning process and in making this decision?
Students were invited to participate in open sessions and focus groups that included student government leaders, resident assistants, international students, upperclassmen, underclassmen, club leaders, and athletes. Students participated in six Residence Life Planning workshops in April and May 2019, and in four Design Review workshops in October 2019. Planners asked students to identify their top concerns and needs for Sittner Hall, and answers were HVAC (air conditioning and heating), showers (condition, quality and number), flexible study spaces, better student room finishes, and better kitchen facilities.

Without sinks how do we expect our residents to care for their daily personal hygiene needs?
While building code requires one sink for every eight residents, the Sittner Hall renovation plan includes one washroom sink for each 6.71 residents to provide for hand washing, shaving, brushing teeth, etc. There will be counters with multiple sinks available in each wing for residents’ use.

Additionally, residents will have access to water from new fountains/water-bottle filling stations and kitchenette sinks throughout Sittner Hall. 

Doesn’t directing residents to a common area for sink usage increase the chance for transmitting infectious disease?
Current Sittner Hall sinks are likely to harbor germs and bacteria because of their old age, design and material. They are highly likely to experience unsanitary back-ups, leakage and malfunction, and surface cracks and crevices make thorough cleaning difficult. The renovation’s new sinks feature the latest germ-resistant design and materials, and they will be cleaned daily by custodial using commercial-standard cleaning products. In addition, touchless technology is planned for soap dispensers and hand dryers, and each washing space will also include touchless dispensers with hand sanitizer.

Did finances play a role in removing the sinks from each room?
Yes. Our goal is to keep student debt low while offering as many residence hall amenities as possible, well into the future. To that end, finances affect many university decisions. 

What do residents gain within the current Sittner Hall renovation plan and budget?

  1. All-new climate-control systems—air-conditioning and heating systems through the residence hall with new windows and individual temperature control systems in each room.
  2. New modular furniture (beds, desks, dressers, chairs), lighting fixtures and window shades in each room.
  3. A large, community gathering space for co-ed events such as worships, movies, and game nights.
  4. Updated in-room Wifi.
  5. Comfortable community gathering and lounge spaces on each floor.
  6. Study rooms/alcoves and seating areas throughout the residence hall for both private and group study.
  7. A centralized business center with movable tables and chairs.
  8. Revised layout that opens and enlarges the game area/Den/meeting space.
  9. A new common-core fitness area, available dues-free to all residents.
  10. Expanded kitchen facilities where residents can prepare food and beverages (cleaned daily using commercial-standard cleaning products):
    • A kitchenette in the expanded game area/Den/meeting space.
    • A full-service, open-concept community kitchen on Floor 2 featuring vending machines and a pass-through window to the outdoor entertainment space.
    • Two kitchenettes on Floor 3 and two kitchenettes on Floor 4.
  11. Upgraded restroom/shower/washing facilities, which will be cleaned daily using commercial-standard cleaning products:
    • New privacy toilets and showers, each with floor-to-ceiling privacy stalls.
    • Single-use sink/toilet rooms on Floors 1, 2 and 4.
  12. New water fountains on each hall—double the number required by code—providing filtered water and water-bottle filling stations.
  13. A fully remodeled laundry room.
  14. Hypoallergenic flooring in each room.
  15. A new closet space in each room.
  16. A full-length mirror in each room.
  17.  A new, centralized elevator for ADA accessibility at the entrance of Sittner Hall.
  18. Single-occupancy ADA rooms with ADA-designated toilets and showers.
  19. Safety control doors to better secure all living areas.
  20. New room door locking systems that add ease of access with improved technology.
  21. Better residence hall noise control with new doors and sound proofing for group areas.

Questions, comments, concerns?

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