Ball Residence Hall's Past, Present and Future

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Ball Residence Hall, a four-story red brick building on the western edge of IUPUI’s campus, was built in 1928 for nursing students as a gift from the Ball brothers from Muncie, Indiana – hence its name. When IUPUI became a university in 1969, Ball became an official residence hall for students outside of nursing.

Ball Residence Hall as it stands today. (IUPUI Housing and Residence Life)

While IUPUI has grown, Ball Residence Hall, where more than 325 first-year students in single, double, and triple rooms live, has just grown old.

Inside, the once white tile floors are stained and the wall paint cracks and peels. Most rooms lack air conditioning, and all use old-fashioned radiators for heat. Covered pipes, often hot to the touch, are visible along the ceiling and in the corners of the rooms for heat flow.

In the community bathrooms, many shower stalls are curtained and benchless. The shower floors are cracked. The housing handbook states there is lead-based paint and asbestos present in the building, dangers that aren’t an immediate health threat, but also aren’t common in modern housing.

Konnor Hannan, a current resident, hasn’t enjoyed living in Ball. “Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have lived here. I would’ve rather paid more for an apartment,” Hannan said. “They need to just tear it down and build a new one.”

Indiana University’s Board of Trustees agreed. Last semester, they approved a $16.2 million renovation for the residence hall. The building structure will stand, but the interior will be gutted and redone.

This renovation will replace the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection systems, remodel current restrooms, add universally accessible student rooms and single-use restrooms, add a new laundry room, update student rooms and access controls, and replace all windows.

“It’s difficult to maintain and preserve its character while offering modern day comfort students are looking for,” Helen Lockhart, the residence marketing director said.

The renovation aims to find that balance. After 91 years with few changes, Ball Hall is set for a complete makeover. Once the spring sessions ends, contractors will get to work on the two-year project.

Ball Residence Hall in its early years, 1927. (IUPUI Special Collections and Archives)

The long-term effects the renovation will have on campus living are yet to be determined. Just 11% of students live on campus and renovating the dorm may increase this percent.

“I want to live in a place that is worth my money rather than spend my money on a dorm that’s less than average… Living conditions are very important to me,” Kelly Mount, a high school senior considering IUPUI said.

To her, Ball’s renovation guarantees a nicer dorm. But for others, it means having one less housing option and 325 fewer spaces. To compensate for this, more students will be placed in IUPUI’s apartment complex. One person rooms are now for two people, two person rooms are now for four people, and so on. Students who hoped for more space and privacy are opting to deny their contracts and live off-campus instead.

No matter the effects, by 2021, Ball Hall will welcome first-year students with a new and improved facility and a place to call home.

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