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[Photo Story] A First Glimpse At The Beautiful (And Infuriating) East Halls Renovations

As soon as construction started on East Halls, it was clear the freshman experience at Penn State wouldn’t be the same. 

Talk of renovating the East and Pollock Halls began in 2014 after successful renovations to South Halls launched a decade-long project to update all of Penn State’s outmoded residence halls. The Board of Trustees approved phase two of the East renovations in 2017, which allotted $106 million for a new building and two complete building renovations.

Martin Hall, named after Pennsylvania’s 32nd governor Edward Martin, is open to freshmen for the first time this fall — and it looks more like a hotel than it does a residence hall. Alumni from the mid-60s on remember East’s wooden-clad dorms and cramped communal bathrooms, but they were part of a larger rite of passage for Penn Staters. 

Take a look at how first-year students will be living in style from now on:

East Halls promotes outdoor fun now that you won’t step on a rusty nail from a construction effort that (truly felt like it) ran 24 hours a day.

Each floor has large couches and tables for students to hang out in — a change from hanging out by the stalls in the bathroom before your 8 a.m. class.

East Halls ceilings were often described as looking like “ice cube trays.” Those days are gone.

Trying to find decent lighting in an East Halls dorm and walking outside to find that you look marginally different in daylight was a daily struggle. Just imagine the selfies the next generation of Penn Staters will take in this lighting.

So much room for activities. So jealous.

Freshmen are probably able to whip up Gordon Ramsey-approved meals in this kitchen. All I remember having to make a good, home-cooked meal was the semi-functioning microwave that Penn State probably bought in the early 80s.

I felt like I would never stop seeing things that amazed me in this dorm, but “The Quiet Room” definitely took the cake. This panic room-esque space is for one person at a time to decompress or study.  It sort of looks like solitary confinement, but, like, NICE solitary confinement.

Throughout the lobby, there were different study rooms with various seating for groups. *sigh* Where was this when the only study spot in my dorm was next to the desk of a roommate that blasted “Hairspray the Musical” all day?

Oh, look! Another spacious common area for freshmen to hang out and study. 

This picture is only a third of how many washers and dryers took up the room. They probably all work correctly, too — a luxury plenty of former East Halls residents never had.

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About the Author

Shannon Soboslay

Shannon is a Sophomore at Penn State with an undecided major. She's from the great city of Pittsburgh, and you can usually find her spreading an even amount of jelly on one slice of toast with an even amount of peanut butter on the other. Contact her at [email protected] or shansobo on all social media sources


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