Six years after renovations began in Jester West Residence Hall, the building now has just two floors left of air conditioning, bathrooms and plumbing fixtures to update.
In the summer of 2013, construction began on Jester West’s 14 floors with the intention of finishing it by the summer of 2018. After being pushed back a year in 2017, the renovations on the ground and first floor will begin in mid-May and are expected to be finished by the beginning of August.
Randy Porter, director of residential facilities at UT, said the delay came from construction costs exceeding their initial estimates.
“The original cost estimate in 2013 was $36 million, and we will be finishing the project at $56 million,” Porter said. “In order to complete the last two phases, we had to get approval to increase the overall project budget and that process took about a year to do.”
Since the project was so large, different bodies had to give approval before work could begin, Porter said. Once cleared by campus project management and construction services, the proposal moved through the UT President, the UT System and finally, the Board of Regents.
Construction took place from the top floors down, allowing for more convenient plumbing and air conditioning installation, which is why the first and ground floor still need to be renovated. Under the contracting company FlintCo, construction on the floors has taken place each summer with the exception of the summer of 2017, Porter said.
During construction, the configuration of the floors can change as the result of study rooms being converted into residential rooms and vice versa, Porter said. The floors, however, will not have any unique features besides different finishes, paint colors and carpeting.
Kyle Kosanovich, an art and entertainment technologies freshman, lives on the first floor of Jester West, which is still unrenovated, and said the newer floors are better looking compared to his.
“(The renovated rooms) look much nicer,” Kosanovich said. “They a look a little bit more bright and not as dull.”
Freddy Quintanilla, rhetoric and writing and philosophy senior, is currently a resident assistant in Jester West and has lived on the renovated floors for two years. He said the unrenovated floors are old and unappealing.
“It’s just gloomy. It feels like they’re 20 years old,” Quintanilla said. “I would not want to live there under any circumstances. The whole atmosphere changes as soon (the floors are) renovated.”