The Murphy Metamorphosis

September 12th, 2013

Something is different about John Carroll University this school year. Any student walking across campus will most likely pass the long green fence surrounding what used to be the biggest residence hall on campus: Murphy Hall.

Inside this colored cocoon lies the brick animal of a freshmen residence hall students have come to know and love. Emerging from that cocoon in August 2014 will be a new and improved Murphy Hall.

On Aug. 13, 2012, JCU’s president, the Rev. Robert Niehoff, S.J. announced the plans to renovate the outdated residence hall. The last time Murphy underwent any type of deep structural change was when it first opened in 1964.

Some aspects of the building were beginning to deteriorate and it became evident a change was necessary.

Former Murphy resident, sophomore Ethan Shue said, “The hall was extremely outdated and dirty. I had fun and good experience, but it was filthy. That’s why they called it the ‘Dirty Murph’.”

In May, the residence hall closed down for the process of renovating the building for its comeback in August 2014, and the project is well underway.

Any door, carpet stain or broken ceiling tile that resembled the old Murphy Hall is already gone. Over the past three months, renovation teams knocked out every single structure, excluding the floors and beams. This complete interior makeover will lead to the construction of lavish new lounges, designated study areas and new rooms that will include triple and quadruple room options.

As part of the mission to create an improved living situation for the upperclassmen students who will occupy the new Murphy, each room will include a sink. This sink project called for a complete overhaul of the building’s utilities, including gas, electric and water.

The team of engineers and construction workers on site have their hands full with many ongoing projects to complete, but according to Associate Vice President of Facilities Carol Dietz, the project is going well.

“Everything is currently on schedule and some aspects are actually ahead of schedule,” said Dietz.

The biggest visible changes to the building thus far are the complete interior demolition, the removal of all windows and the complete masonry restoration on the building’s exterior.

Progress is already beginning on the building’s interior as well. New metal studs and drywall are set up for the quad rooms and new windows are starting to appear around the foundation. The project has a long way to go until students will have an opportunity to take a look at the progress.

With the replacement of gas lines, dry walls, windows and metal foundations, Murphy still has a while to go until it is safe enough for visitors.

“We want to make sure students understand how dangerous the project is until it is finished,” said Dietz.

Amid all of these changes, JCU is striving to make sure “dirty” is never again an adjective associated with Murphy.

Once renovation is complete, Dietz hopes for Murphy to be the first LEED certified building on campus. This certification is awarded from the U.S. Green Building Council to buildings that excel in areas such as water efficiency, indoor air quality, innovation in design and sustainability.

Construction will continue throughout the fall and winter, so that in the spring Murphy may start to look like a residence hall again. While there is still a lot to be done, one thing is certain: Murphy Hall is well on its way to being one of the cleanest, most innovative and well-constructed residence halls on campus.