BELLINGHAM - If a student in a wheelchair registers for a class scheduled in Fraser Hall at Western Washington University, the entire class must be moved to another building.
Otherwise, they are faced with a clunky lift down and around a staircase, as well as rooms not designed to accommodate students with disabilities. And because Fraser Hall generally houses larger classes, finding a place to move them can be a challenge.
That challenge will go away next fall, as a $3.2 million project to modernize Fraser Hall and make it more accessible is set to begin in January.
"The building had not really had a serious upgrade since the early- to mid-'60s when the building was constructed," said Ed Simpson, assistant director for facilities development at WWU.
Fraser Hall, which includes three larger lecture halls, will be closed winter and spring quarters during construction, and is set to reopen for fall quarter 2013.
The university put the renovation project out for bid in October, and the Board of Trustees is expected to look at those bids at its December meeting.
The renovation will add an elevator, as well as make the bathrooms and classrooms accessible.
"It'll really give the university more options having that many more classroom seats available for those with disabilities," Simpson said.
The classrooms also will have improved lighting and speaker systems and will be updated to be compatible with modern technology. In addition, the energy efficiency of exterior walls will be improved, as will the air systems.
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