July 14, 2021

Lynne Deninger and Marisa Nemcik Featured in Talking Stick Magazine Cover Story

Lynne and Marisa, leaders in our education practice, co-authored an article on how students and institutions may benefit from renovating residence halls rather than building anew.

Dynamic residence halls are a central part of the on-campus experience and a key component of recruitment, particularly for first-year students. Current and future students no longer expect these spaces to meet only lodging and dining needs, but also to offer amenities that support holistic wellness. Lynne Deninger, education practice leader in our Boston office, and Marisa Nemcik, a Student Life strategist and designer in our Education market, are leading the work to create high-demand housing facilities by injecting new life into aging buildings, providing the modernization students need while maximizing the school’s capital investments.

Read the full article in the digital July 2021 issue of Talking Stick.

Rejuvenating University of Georgia’s Russell Hall

This 230,000 sf mid-century modern building was transformed into a forward-looking hub of student vitality. In partnership with Menefee Architecture, our team modernized all student rooms to make living and learning spaces more flexible. The building’s communal bathrooms were enhanced to increase privacy with the installation of unitized toilets and showers.


Following the renovation, Russell Hall expanded to house 940 students and became the most popular building on campus for first-year students. The building was in such high demand that 100% of its housing space was claimed on the first day of registration.


Linda Kasper, executive director of housing at UGA, was pleased with how the renovation process offered flexibility that allowed the team to be responsive. “We’ve certainly discovered that ‘newest’ and ‘best’ are subjective terms through this process, and we’re continuing to learn as we go. For example, we added phone rooms in our first renovation – enclosed single spaces with a chair, next to an elevator bank. Students love these spaces, and we put more in our next renovation. They’ve become Zoom rooms during the pandemic and allowed students to more easily adapt to virtual learning.”

A Hybrid Approach that Delivers the Best of Both Worlds

A thorough facilities assessment determined that a renovation of the Illinois Street Residence (ISR) Halls at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) should include modernization of an existing building and new construction. The project touched more than 315,000 sf between both buildings and included upgraded interiors, new electrical systems, individual-use bathrooms and more.

Alma Sealine, executive director of university housing at UIUC understands the positive ripple effect that renovating an aging building can have. “One of the myths it’s important to dispel from day one is renovation isn’t a lesser option than a new build. It’s cost-effective because there’s already a structure standing to build upon, not because it means you can’t achieve great results.”