Albion College’s Burns Street apartments get remodeled

February 20, 2023

By Ward Mullens

When Jordon Loukotka moved into his Burns Street apartment to start the fall semester at Albion College, it was in “rough shape.”

“The floor had mystery stains and it was really humid inside. I really needed more than a box fan to survive,” he said.

The humidity caused some issues in the building that needed to be addressed and two weeks into the fall semester, Loukotka and the other residents had to be relocated to other housing on campus.

While moving twice in such a short period is not something anyone on either side wanted to do, a difficult situation was made easier thanks to the efforts of a team composed of several departments, including facilities and community living and WG Construction.

“When I came back after the renovations, I was glad to see all of my problems were solved,” said Loukotka, a third-year student from Pinckney majoring in political science. “The carpet and the stains had been replaced and the new unit they installed got rid of the humidity issue, while simultaneously cooling down the place. The new renovations gave me the opportunity to move into basically a new apartment. And I truly enjoy having the opportunity to live there and call it home.”

“Community Living had to move everyone out and relocate them until the issues could be resolved,” said Sandra LaFontaine, Albion College’s design and construction manager. “We had two months to get everything done and that is not really very long when you consider what needed to be accomplished.”

“The students pivoted quickly and were patient while we were giving a second life to the space,” said Clark Dawood, associate dean for community living and student conduct. “I am excited to see the full remodel this summer. Burns has had a reputation of being a space where you might have to live, instead of where you want to live. This project highlights what we can do and is a great example of how to approach future residential improvement projects.”

There are 23 units in Burns and houses up to 46 students in one-bedroom and studio apartments.

“The main issue was that the air was not circulating. The air did not go anywhere unless you opened a window,” said LaFontaine. “We had to come up with a solution to move air around to get the humidity out of the space and prevent moisture buildup.

“We added exhaust fans in the bathrooms that come on automatically when you turn on the lights. Instead of replacing the furnaces, we added supplemental units that provide heat and air conditioning that are so much more efficient,” LaFontaine said.

LaFontaine said that the new units run at 140 percent efficiency compared to the existing furnaces which operated at 80 percent. And there are possible cost savings because the new units are so efficient. When the weather gets colder (below 30 degrees) the existing furnaces still click on to supplement the new units.

Other parts of the remodel included removing wood shelving in the closet, adding Kinetex carpeting that does not retain moisture, painting and adding vinyl in the kitchen and bathroom, along with new lighting and accessories in the bathrooms.

Aside from moving the students to their new housing, LaFontaine said that the largest challenge was the logistics of ordering everything and making sure it would be delivered in time.

“The longer lead times related to COVID creates larger challenges with any project these days,” LaFontaine said.

There are plans to remodel the second floor units to match the first units along with upgrading the kitchen spaces in all of the units over the summer, LaFontaine said. The entire project should be completed by the end of the summer.

“Considering everything that had to be done, this project went very smoothly,” she said. “And everyone seems satisfied with the result.”