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Updated: January 10, 2013 11:06PM



MUNCIE — Ball State University on Wednesday formally re-opened Studebaker East residence hall, which includes the university’s first revolving door, housing for 430 international and American students, three two-story lounges, water bottle filling stations, three student kitchens, a computer lab, a fitness room and certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The residence hall had been closed for a $24.1 million reconstruction project that demolished everything but the concrete shell, which left it looking like a parking garage for a while.

“I like the kitchen,” said Chen Liang, a BSU junior majoring in business administration. “I’m from China. I don’t like American food. I cook Chinese food and improve my cooking skills.”

The hall is home to international students and American students studying foreign languages or interested in international topics.

“There are a lot of foreign students,” said Claiborne Houghser, a freshman from Rushville who has enjoyed Korean food prepared in one of the kitchens by an international student.

Houghser moved to Studebaker from the Johnson Complex, which, like Studebaker, was built in the 1960s. Hougsher told The Star Press Johnson is “kind of outdated” and said Studebaker feels “more grown up.” BSU’s next residence hall renovation is Johnson’s Botsford/Swinford halls, scheduled for completion in 2015.

Houghser likes Studebaker’s glass-walled study areas that look down into the glass-walled two-story lounges. “It’s good for finals to have a study zone,” she said. “I spent a lot of time there during finals. At night, you can see the bell tower lit up and almost every building on campus. It’s cool to look out.”

She also likes the water bottle filling stations on each floor. “It’s a lot cheaper than buying bottled water,” she said. The filling stations help eliminate waste from disposable plastic bottles. “This is an eco-friendly building,” Houghser said.

The filling stations include a visual display that counts the number of 16-ounce bottles saved from the landfill after every fill-up.

“Up to 90 universities have actually banned the sale of bottled water on campus, and many more have been looking to provide alternatives,” said Franco Savoni, a spokesman for Elkay Manufacturing Co., producer of BSU’s EZH2O filling stations. “That’s what our unit does.”

The EZH2O fills a 16-ounce water bottle in about six seconds. “The units are hands free,” Savoni said. “You don’t have to touch them. You put the bottle down in front of a sensor that activates it. The United States goes through 50 billion water bottles a year. Thirty-eight billion end up in waste.”

Grace Morris, organizer of Corporate Accountability International’s “Think Outside the Bottle” campaign, told The Star Press, “It’s exciting when a university like Ball State takes action to promote tap water and challenges the marketing claims of the bottled water industry and its attempt to change water from a basic human right and public resource to a commodity.”

The reconstruction of Studebaker East reflects the university’s commitment to improving the environment; increasing the number of international students to make the campus more vibrant and diverse; and to improving the quality of life on campus, Kay Bales, vice president for student affairs, said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

That’s why Studebaker East includes the university’s first revolving door.

Fifteen percent of the energy used at the typical BSU residence hall “goes out the front doors” when students come and go in cold weather, said Alan Hargrave, director of housing and residence life.

“In DeHority (Complex, which was renovated three years ago), as much traffic in and out as we have, we can’t pump in enough heat to keep it comfortable,” Hargrave said. “This gave me a whole new perspective on revolving doors at hotels. It’s not just a cool thing. Getting students to use the revolving door will be a huge savings.”

Besides water and energy use, other aspects Ball State addressed to get Studebaker East LEED certified included buying construction materials close to home, recycling demolition waste, maintenance programs, and allowing the new carpet time to off-gas before occupying the building. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The Star Press heard one complaint about the building from a student.

Liang, the student from China, called the dorm rooms small.

The project’s architects attending the ribbon cutting told The Star Press a double room in Studebaker contains 216 square feet, which they called ‘pretty average’ for a residence hall.

Hargrave said the rooms might appear smaller because the ceilings are relatively low. To offset the lower ceilings, the dorm rooms include floor to ceiling windows.

Past surveys of BSU students found that they want more natural light and artificial light in residence halls and more living-learning space to provide “more of a community feeling,” Hargrave said.

Mecca Williams, a sophomore from Indianapolis, likes Studebaker’s glass-walled study rooms overlooking the spacious two-story lounges.

“When you’re studying, you’re cut off from anything below in the fun room,” she said. She can see what’s going on but doesn’t hear it.



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