Varnado on schedule for fall opening

The historic Varnado Hall, originally constructed in 1939, is undergoing its first big renovation since 1988. Additions to the residence hall include: art studios, practice rooms and a performance space available for student use. Photo by: Alec Horton

The historic Varnado Hall, originally constructed in 1939, is undergoing its first big renovation since 1988. Additions to the residence hall include: art studios, practice rooms and a performance space available for student use. Photo by: Alec Horton

ALEC HORTON
Visual Editor

New information about Varnado Hall might have off-campus aficionados running back to the dorms. Architects redesigned the historic building to the needs of CAPA students, and its location could not be more convenient.

The last update on Varnado’s renovation revealed that the historic residence hall would attract CAPA students due to its new amenities: a performance space, a computer lab, art studios and 24-hour access to practice rooms.

In addition to these features, the university and Campus Living Villages (CLV) hope to build a recording studio and kitchen space into the dorm. Architects recently measured Varnado to determine the practicality of these features given the square footage available for each component. Their updated oor plan is expected in the coming weeks.

Despite the new additions, there will be no change in bedroom size, and the dorm is still expected to open for the fall semester. Varnado Hall will accommodate 194 students at its full capacity––a minor expansion from its previous 180 beds.

Freshman music education major Logan Guillot found one addition to Varnado particularly appealing.

“The 24-hour practice rooms,” Guillot said. “In case CAPA is locked, you can practice at home… It gives [music students] all of these opportunities to improve whenever they want.”

Guillot also said that he thinks adding a recording studio to the residence hall would draw in music business majors or students pursuing careers in audio production.

Assistant to the Provost Jennifer Kelly is an instrumental part of the renovation project, serving as the liaison between the university and CLV. In addition to having larger bedrooms compared to shared University Place rooms, CAPA students living in Varnado will benefit from having a faculty rector in the building. This staff member will have office hours in Varnado and organize activities to improve group dynamics.

“[Students] will have classes in that building and different things that are geared to their major,” Kelly said. “This will be the first facility that Northwestern has that is truly a living-learning college.”

The residence hall closed for the fall 2016 semester so that it could receive a major upgrade to appeal to CAPA students. Photo by: Alec Horton

The residence hall closed for the fall 2016 semester so that it could receive a major upgrade to appeal to CAPA students. Photo by: Alec Horton

Due to the specialized programming that will take place in the dorm, CAPA students who register to live in Varnado will have priority over students who are not involved in the department in any extent. Students who are not a part of CAPA activities will be able to apply for the residence hall, but will not be considered priority applicants.

An area of concern for the new and improved Varnado Hall is one that many college students hold near and dear to their hearts: price.

“It might be a little more pricey, but that’s understandable,” Guillot said.

Kelly said that the university and CLV is finalizing the leasing price, pending the University of Louisiana System (ULS) board’s approval. Students can cost when lease expect to find out the applications go online Feb. 1.

“I think it will be between a shared price and a private price at University Place,” Kelly said. “We are building into the rent the programming and the special things in that facility. I think the students will definitely see a benefit for what they are paying in rent and the programming.”

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