Future of UNR historic building unknown

Reported by: Jaime Hayden
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Updated: 6/10/2014 5:40 pm
RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) - The University of Nevada, Reno is already looking beyond the next two student-housing options under construction, they're outlining the concept for an additional large-capacity residence hall. And this new idea could take away an old residence hall that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lincoln Hall currently houses about 80 men, and University officials say as the campus continues to grow, so does the need for more on campus housing. “Our student enrollment is growing, but we’re actually also seeing more students, particularly our incoming freshman, who want to live on campus,” said UNR Communications Director Jane Tors.

So one concept to house an additional 400 students on campus, is to build another new residence hall by 2017. But the catch, Lincoln Hall, one of the oldest buildings on campus, would have to go. “There could be a few options that are considered,” said Tors. “But there is the potential to take down the building or take down part of the building.”

University officials say the proposed residence hall would blend preservation with new construction, but their top priority is safety, especially with a structure built in 1896. “It’s our objective to make sure that we end up with all of our residence halls being up to modern construction standard, which also means up to seismic performance standards as well," said Tors.

Historians say although plans are preliminary, it’s still a surprise to hear of them. “These are incredibly, historical significant buildings,” said historian Dr. Alicia Barber. “And it’s not just about their architecture, it’s about their significance to the campus."

Barber says seismic retrofitting buildings have been done on campus before, so she hopes it can be done again. "It’s important to know what all the options are,” said Barber. “And that would mean hiring a structural engineer with hopefully national expertise and historic preservation."

Barber also says a new online petition has been created to save Lincoln Hall. Still, Tors says preserving a building is expensive and it could depend on what funding is available.

As of right now, no decision has been made on the future of Lincoln Hall or the proposed 2017 residence hall and it’s unknown when a decision could be made.

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