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Brooks Residence Hall may be demolished

Oct. 28, 2005

by BROOKE BRANAM, reporter

Brooks Residence Hall may be torn down and replaced with a larger residence college by next fall.

Dr. Frank Shushok, dean for student learning and engagement, conducted a study for the Baylor Board of Regents about establishing a new residential community.

Jessie Solomon | Lariat staff
Brooks Residence Hall may converted into a residence college by fall 2007. The Baylor Board of Regents will review a formal proposal in February.
"It was the university's recommendation that Brooks is at a place in its history that it can't be renovated," Shushok said.

Plans for Brooks Village include residential flats and a residence college. Shushok has been working with an architect and design firm on the new look. In February, the board of regents will review a formal proposal.

According to the proposal, there will be 700 new residential spaces between the two new buildings. Brooks residence flats will be similar to North Village Residential Community. It will have apartment-style rooms with kitchens, washers and single beds. Brooks flats will be aimed toward upperclassmen.

In addition to Brooks flats, the residence would be the home of Baylor's first residence college. Modeled after the residence college at Harvard, it's based on a multiyear student experience. Using current Brooks architecture, like the arch and bust, the residence hall would be changed into a suite-style hall with a quad, Shushok said.

Another key part of the proposal is the residence college's faculty resident. Having a faculty member living in the hall will "provide a culture that fosters academic excellence, intensive faculty-student interaction as well as rich student community steeped in Baylor tradition," according to the proposal.

"The funding and final go- ahead rests with the board of regents," Shushok said, although extensive plans are being made.

If approved by the board, construction will begin this summer and be ready for fall 2007. Shushok said current Brooks students will get priority when applying for residency in Brooks Village.

"There will be a short-term drop for a long-term gain," Shushok said about Brooks Village bringing more students to live on campus.

Shushok is concerned with keeping Brooks' legacy alive in the new construction.

"They talked with lots of students about Brooks historical significance, and we need to rethink how to celebrate the great things about Brooks," Shushok said.

Although many students and alumni have connections to Brooks, many current students don't like the age and configuration of the hall, Shushok said.

"Alumni of all ages often stop by to reminisce about their experience in Brooks Hall and most consider it a special place," said Larry Hughes, director of Brooks Residence Hall. "I would be sad to see it go. But the reality is that the building needs to be replaced to be in line with the student development philosophy of Baylor," he said.

Shushok said they want to update Brooks but not lose sight of its way of life.

"We want to highlight Brooks' traditions," Shushok said. Paintings of Samuel Brooks would be used in the new buildings to help recreate the legacy and symbols of the residence hall, Shushok said.

A new Brooks facility would open up that side of campus, which is usually stark, said Student Body President Mark Laymon, a Richardson junior.

"The addition to this side of campus will open it up. Not many people go over there, and this will make it a more active part of campus," Laymon said.

"Brooks Village will do for our existing residence halls what the Baylor Sciences Building did for our other academic buildings. It will be a beautiful and impressive complex that will raise the level of prestige associated with a Baylor Residence Hall," Laymon said.