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Thursday, June 01, 2023 — Houston, TX

Hanszen considers renovation

By Ellen Liu     2/1/12 6:00pm

A new Hanszen College student committee is considering renovating and possibly rebuilding New Section, which was erected in 1955. This group, called the New Section Student Advisory Board, has met with Housing and Dining; Facilities, Engineering and Planning; and other administrators to discuss the viability and form of these changes.

The board includes Hanszen College President Coco Owens, External Vice President Zack Panos and six at-large student members. Hanszen resident associates and several Cabinet members are also involved.

Owens, a senior, said New Section is in dire need of renovations because its outdated two-pipe system and other features have caused living-condition issues from molding to rats. Advisory board member and sophomore Mike Schubert said he agrees that it is time for an overhaul.

"Hanszen has always been given crap for having bad rooms, so this is our chance to remove that stigma for future students," Schubert noted.

Panos, a junior, serves as a nonvoting facilitator of the committee and said its objective is to make sure Hanszen student input is considered for the renovation or rebuilding of New Section. Advisory board member and freshman Rebecca Kellner added that the group's responsibility is to gather the opinions of Hanszen students, decide what the priorities are, and make a clear proposal to FE&P, H&D and the Board of Trustees.

The advisory board first met last week to brainstorm ideas for a possible rebuild. The members prioritized the creation of a new wing which considers both modern concerns and the original design of Old Section, board member and senior Travis San Pedro said.

"This is an opportunity to produce something timeless," San Pedro noted. "Almost a century later, we are still living in Hanszen Old Section, but Hanszen New Section is falling apart in about half the time Old Section has existed. In the long run, [this rebuild] can not only save the university money if done correctly, but re-instill architectural uniformity on campus."

Panos said FE&P is currently conducting a bed-count study to determine whether New Section will be renovated or rebuilt and should have those results by the end of the semester. President David Leebron's ultimate goal is to increase the percentage of students living on campus from its current 72 percent level to 80 percent, Owens added. If construction is planned, it will begin after the Centennial and will most likely be funded by donors, Panos noted.

According to San Pedro, many Hanszenites support the idea of rebuilding New Section completely because they are frustrated with the dysfunction of the current building and want a building that matches Old Section in visual style.

Hanszen College sophomore Gabrien Clark said that while he likes the arrangement of New Section's rooms, he prefers Old Section's architecture.

"I feel that many people at Hanszen feel like the college has two identities, one with Old Section and another with New Section," Clark noted.

The committee is going to poll Hanszen students in the next few weeks to find out what students would specifically like to see in the new building, San Pedro said. Schubert said some interior design changes discussed include adding a quadrangle and private bathrooms and hallways and glass windows for easier social interactions.

Manager of Communications for FE&P Susann Glenn said there are currently no renovation plans in place, as nothing has been discussed or approved, but FE&P is working with Hanszen to address standard maintenance in New Section. Owens added that the advisory board wants Hanszenites to participate in the voting process when renovations are officially considered, something that has never been done before.

On March 21, the committee will have lunch with two members from the board who are on Rice's Building and Grounds Committee to give them a presentation about suggested renovations and rebuilding because the board makes the final decision about what happens at Hanszen, San Pedro said.

"Hanszen New Section is going to be the greatest building of all time," Schubert added. "The academic quad will be jealous."

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