SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — In a special meeting of the South Orange Planning Board last night, Seton Hall University gained the board's approval of an application to build an addition onto Boland Hall.

The university's application is to construct an approximate 1,628 square foot entrance lobby to the existing Boland Hall, at 400 South Orange Ave. It is the largest freshman dormitory on the 58-acre campus of the Catholic university.

“The intent of the lobby is to be bright, open and welcoming,” said architect John Lignos, who presented the project for Seton Hall. “That is achieved by plenty of clear glass by day and artificial LED ceiling lighting by night.”  

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Although the project requires relocating one dorm room, he said, no new dorm rooms are part of the project. As a result of the project, “there will be no additional students or staff, and no additional parking required,” Lignos noted.

Landscape architect Al Demerich explained the proposed changes to the exterior grounds. The landscaping goal is “to improve the existing atmosphere of the Boland memorial,” which remembers the three students who died and the more than 60 students injured in the January 2000 Boland Hall dormitory fire. New seating and low hedges “will give a sense of enclosure” around the circular area “but not enclose it to where you can't look over” and see the memorial.

Four mature locust trees will be taken out and replaced with four Kwanzan cherry trees at four sitting areas with benches. Demerich said locusts are a shallow-rooted variety and “their survivability would be doubtful” with the disruption of the close by construction.

Interior updates not needing planning board approval are also part of the project. Improvements will include “new lighting, fixtures, furniture and finishes in the dorm rooms and common spaces of Boland South,” a university statement said. The project “will be funded through New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority (NJEFA) bonds that were procured last year. Under terms of the bond agreement, Seton Hall is obligated to use this funding to renovate Boland Hall.”

Also approved at the meeting was Seton Hall's preliminary and final site plan wherein “The University proposes to replace and modify the previously approved area of the addition near the main entrance of the University Center building (west side) to add 1,384 square feet to the building footprint (proposed addition of approximately 6,000 gross square feet), update the existing façade, and renovate the remaining sections not completed under Phase 1,” as stated on the meeting's agenda. 


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