When Patsy South White ‘67 came to Radford in January 1966 as a transfer student, she lived in Moffett Hall, built just three years earlier.
“I thought it was a beautiful building,” she recalled. “Moffett was so brand-new. The parlors were elegant with nicely upholstered wooden furniture. It was a very gracious building.”
Completed in 1963, the residence hall was named for RU’s legendary M’Ledge Moffett, the first female dean at a public university in Virginia. Except for window replacement in the late 1990s and a partial renovation of the student health area, the building changed little in half a century.
A comprehensive makeover began in February 2011. The redesign was done by VMDO Architects of Charlottesville, and Contractor Thor Inc. of Roanoke began work immediately after commencement ceremonies in May 2011. RU Facilities Planning and Construction managed the project from start to finish.
The work began with asbestos abatement—after all, back in the 1960s, asbestos was not known as a health hazard. Then interior demolition for a new floor plan comprising mostly two-person rooms, each with its own bath, followed. Resident assistants and the resident director now have apartments on the first level, and there are four multi-bedroom student apartments on levels 2 and 3.
White shared a small first-floor room with two other young women during her first term at Radford. “There were two beds, one on each side of the window and a third against a wall. There were no bookcases and only two desks.”
As the third person assigned to the room, “I did my studying on my lap.” Nor did she have her own closet. “There were two sliding-door closets with combination locks.” While the closets could be locked, the room itself could not. “I had to hang my clothes in the other girls’ closets and memorize both combinations.”
Moffett Hall rooms have been modified over the years, and security has improved, but updates have been incremental. The renovation made radical changes reflecting 21st century construction and conservation standards.
Roy Saville, director of facilities planning and construction, said sustainability was considered in every phase of the project. For instance, existing doors were reused, and bamboo, a rapidly renewable material that can regenerate in 10 years, was used for lounge flooring and display boards adjacent to student rooms.
“Our aim was to minimize the use of new raw materials and the energy required for production and transport.”
Low-flow toilet fixtures and shower heads were installed in all bathrooms, as was the case when Madison and Jefferson residence halls were remodeled in summer 2011. The “new” Moffett Hall is cooled with a high-tech, energy-efficient chiller. It uses magnetic-bearing centrifugal technology similar to that by which maglev high-speed trains are suspended above their tracks with a magnetic field. When used for cooling, the technology slashes both costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
“This will mean huge savings on energy costs and energy usage.”
Meeting and study spaces were added throughout the building, as well as a large lounge with a kitchen on the first level and a laundry room on both the east and west wings of each level. Access inside and outside the building was improved to accommodate those with disabilities, including 11 fully accessible resident rooms. All rooms have new furniture.
Amber Mullen, director of residential life, said the conversion from suites to two-person rooms is the most notable change to the floor plan. The entire project, however, has a broader impact. “It’s modernizing the building, another step toward updating all of our residence halls for all of our students.”