Cornell College Pauley-Rorem, Dows, & Tarr Residence Halls Remodels

Mount Vernon, Iowa

OPN Architects worked with Cornell College on an ambitious three-facility renovation of Dows, Pauley-Rorem, and Tarr residence halls. Built three years apart, the existing halls lacked a unifying presence on campus. It was the goal of the design to create a center for student interaction through unique cultural and entertainment centers in each of the four residence halls’ commons. Prior to any design, the OPN team worked with faculty, staff, students, and campus stakeholders to assess the facility needs and discuss possible design solutions. The results of these visioning sessions helped shape the form and function of the commons.

The project kicked off with Pauley-Rorem in 2013, which was completed in March 2015. Renovations to Dows and Tarr were completed in August 2015. Updates of each four-story facility involved exterior window replacements; a central patio between the halls to create a cohesive entrance and attract and encourage students to engage with the community; interior renovations of the top three residence levels; a complete reconstruction of each halls’ first-floor commons areas; and a gaming center, study area, performance stage, and demonstration kitchen across the four halls.

To accommodate continuous work throughout the school year, each facility renovation had an expected five-month completion window to allow for the shifting of student housing as construction is completed.

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