Collins inspires renovation of Allen, Dawson halls

Allen and Dawson residence halls are set to finish construction and add more communal spaces in August 2025. Kenneth Prabhakar | Photo Editor

By Piper Rutherford | Staff Writer

Adding to the list of residence hall renovations, construction on Allen and Dawson halls will break ground in May 2024 and is expected to be completed by August 2025.

Nichole Bekken, project manager of construction services, said she began planning for the $7.5 million renovation of both Allen and Dawson halls following the Board of Regents budget approval for the year in May. She said she is focused on creating community spaces that will enhance the connections between the LEAD Living-Learning Community—which is the community currently in Dawson—and the IMPACT LLC, following a fall 2022 merger of the two.

“Most two-bedroom dorms in Allen and Dawson have en-suite bathrooms, so we are basically working on updating all of that, as well as adding new finishes and layout changes,” Bekken said. “A layout change that I am most looking forward to is a new centralized community space for both the residence halls of Allen and Dawson to enjoy, which will be located between the two buildings in a connecting corridor.”

Dr. Suzanne Nesmith, associate dean of undergraduate education, said it is important for the communities to have collaborative spaces where like-minded students can support and learn from one another.

“We had some incredible spaces that we were able to lean into by taking the components that worked so well in South Russell, where the IMPACT LLC first started out in 2015,” Nesmith said. “Now, we are leaning further into this renovation to make sure that we are making this space the best possible scenario for all of the students in the LEAD LLC, who can now experience this community where they live and learn together.”

Bekken said it will be challenging to work on the construction site, given its high-traffic location on campus.

“Since we are so close to Eighth Street, in addition to the impacts of being so close to Memorial Dining Hall, will inevitably present difficulties when managing multiple construction teams, working with general contractors and moving materials in and out in an efficient and easy manner,” Bekken said.

Bekken said she feels more confident going into this project after her experience with Collins Hall. She said she has been noting what does and doesn’t work well to best navigate renovating older buildings.

“Some of the walls in the older buildings are plaster walls, and the construction of that is not common,” Bekken said. “Instead, it is a specialty. So we aim to be better at picking and choosing which plaster walls remain during construction, since repairing them is costly. That is a big lesson learned during Collins, in addition to head heights … and combating the issue that a lot of older buildings have, which is not being meant for HVAC.”

As for the renovation process, Bekken said it will take time and patience since the Allen and Dawson halls project is still in the early stages of schematic design. Baylor’s facilities management is currently making furnishing selections before entering what she said is the nitty-gritty of construction.