Bean Hall was once one of the least desired residence halls on the University of Oregon campus. After a $37 million renovation project, however, Bean Hall has transformed into one of the most envied dorms for its strong sense of community, modern amenities and low price tag, university officials said.
The project included stripping the inside of the buildings to modernize the fixtures and improving the flow between the two segments of the building: Bean East and Bean West.
“If you lived here before, you’d remember there’s actually no way to get from third floor Bean West to third floor Bean East,” Project Engineer Will Mau said. “You basically had to go downstairs and around the outside of the building, which safety-wise, wasn’t the most desirable thing.”
Currently under construction, Bean Hall is undergoing a major remodel. The Daily Emerald tak…
Bean West was under construction during the 2017–18 academic year and opened in the fall. Construction at Bean East is scheduled to be completed in July and will be open to the incoming class in 2019.
The project had to be staggered to ensure incoming students had places to stay. Bean West finished construction last year and welcomed its first year of students in the newly renovated hall.
Mau said the construction and housing team invited students living in Bean West to offer feedback on the changes at various town hall meetings and informal get togethers.
“We’ve got a pretty unique experience of being done with one side of construction and still here working on Bean East. So we’ve actually been working with the students to get their preferences,” Mau said.
The renovation project also updated the halls to host community areas, classrooms and Academic Residential Community spaces.
“We weren’t able to make the rooms larger. The room sizes are the same they’ve always been. We would have liked to make them larger, there was just no way of affording to do that. So we tried to make the other spaces better,” Greg Ottoman, director of housing, facilities and services, said.
On the first floor, the high concrete walls that surrounded the buildings were replaced with floor-to-ceiling windows and more centralized entrances equipped with security cameras.
The restrooms went through a substantial change as well. On each floor, restrooms are now private and single use, although the sinks are communal.
“This means the floors can be co-ed and gender inclusive in ways we could not accommodate before,” said Leah Andrews, the marketing director for UO housing.
A centralized community space featuring an overhead projector screen, community kitchen and cube-like, stackable furniture was also a part of the remodel.
Small classroom spaces on the first floor serve as ARC learning spaces by day and community-building spaces for movie nights in the evening.
Bean Hall’s safety and security features were updated as well. Security cameras and a new fire system were installed.
Before renovations, Bean Hall did not have a sprinkler system, Ottoman said. During the renovation, the construction team installed a sprinkler system, as well as a feature that prevents a fire from spreading to other rooms by automatically closing all residents’ doors. The doors remain unlocked so residents can leave their rooms.
“It keeps the fire from spreading. If there’s a fire, the more doors you have closed, the better off you are. That’s why they have these rules to keep the doors shut,” Ottoman said.
The construction team also installed “seismic upgrades” that strengthen the building’s structure in the event of an earthquake, Mau said.
The first floor community space, projector screen and community kitchen have attracted residents from neighboring dorms to spend time at Bean.
“I was surprised as to how enthusiastic some of the folks were. In fact, we have folks that don’t even live at Bean that choose to come over and hang out here,” Ottoman said. “[Students] call them the ‘Jelly Beans,’ which means “jealous of bean.”