Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Westerlin kitchen cooks up renovations

Ben Samson
First-Year Moss Truman cooks using the microwave in the Westerlin kitchen area.

Augustana’s First-Year residence hall, Westerlin, is cooking up a storm with kitchen renovations starting Dec. 13. Over the next several weeks, residents and students can expect to see renovations occurring in the hall’s kitchen and common area. The majority of the construction is projected to be finished around Dec. 22, and final inspections are anticipated for the first week of January. 

Over the past couple of weeks, Westerlin residents may have noticed the “Coming Soon” signs that are hung in the hall’s kitchen area. Bob Lanzerotti, director of facilities and sustainability services, has been working on this project for several months. 

“The money we have now is only covering the new countertops, new casework in there [and] a big sink. And everything will be in there, and then we’ll put new microwaves in. There will be a couple of those, maybe a third one,” Lanzerotti said. “I’m looking for a new stove that will fit in there as well but there will also be a refrigerator, but what won’t get done, because of money and timing, is the flooring.” 

According to Lanzerotti, the majority of renovations will occur when the majority of Westerlin residents are out of the building for winter break. 

“On the 13th of this month, the contractors will show up. Because it’s in a public area, the first thing they will do is put up a barrier,” Lanzerotti said. “I asked them to do a solid barrier for safety purposes because it is overnight and kids are in there all night long.”

The Westerlin kitchen was chosen for renovation by Residential Life. Money is set aside each year to go towards renovations that are deemed necessary. 

“Every year, the cabinet members ask their employees. So like Kirk Anderson asks me as my boss, ‘What are some of the projects you want to work on in this particular school year?’” Lanzerottie said. “Then we consolidate all that work, and then we pick and choose what we think is the best for the students, faculty, staff and campus.” 

According to Lanzerotti, Residential Life chose the Westerlin kitchen this year because it is currently the only residence hall kitchen that doesn’t include a sink.

“We do about $1.4 million worth of work, and we call that small capital. So this project was chosen by Residential Life, then approved by Dr. Wes Brooks and then given to Kirk as one of the projects they wanted to do,” Lanzerotti said. “So from July 1 of this year to June 30 of next year, it’s my job to get all those projects done. Westerlin just kind of hit right here at this winter break. That way we can get it knocked out in a couple of weeks.” 

The Westerlin kitchen is crucial for many Augustana students who stay on campus over breaks when the dining halls are closed, such as international students. Community Advisor (CA) and international student from Pakistan, sophomore Waniya Mehdi, understands the importance and need of a kitchen.

“I feel like as an international student, that’s going to be helpful because a lot of international students stay here over break. When the dining hall is closed, you obviously need to cook for yourself,” Mehdi said. “With a better kitchen and better amenities, it’s just going to make their [lives] easier.” 

A kitchen is also a common place where students can eat together. First-Year international student from Vietnam, My Ha, has utilized the kitchen to cook with friends. 

“I actually use it with my friends because it’s easier to cook with friends than just to bring all my stuff from my dorm room here and do it all by myself,” Ha said. 

The kitchen is the heart of Westerlin. It is used by many students to not only cook but also to sit and gather with friends.  

“I feel like if we get a better kitchen it’s going to add onto Augie’s appeal even more because it’s going to be one of those common areas that almost reminds you of your home if you’re making something for yourself,” Mehdi said.

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