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Davie Hall faces unknown fate

Davie Hall houses the department’s research facilities, classrooms and offices. Professor of psychology and neuroscience Mitch Prinstein and others in Davie Hall have worked to address the limitations they said the building imposes on the department.

“It’s not about the aesthetics,” Prinstein said. “It’s about the functionality.”

Anna Wu, assistant vice chancellor of facilities operations, planning and design, said a team is in the process of selecting an architect to evaluate the building’s functionality.

“We’re asking the design team to look at the feasibility of either renovating Davie or replacing Davie to meet the department needs,” she said.

The department’s needs are abundant, Prinstein said.

“We can’t do what we need to do for science, for undergrad teaching or to enhance our programs, because we are out of space,” he said.

But Prinstein said space is not the only problem. The building has asbestos, a health risk that means each small renovation project becomes costlier.

Another issue is that the building’s windows leak and lack insulation — which means cold indoor temperatures in the winter.

“It’s hard to recruit and retain world-renowned faculty when you tell them they have to wear gloves in the building,” he said.

Prinstein said the psychology department has developed a plan to improve the department’s situation; now all they need is the money.

Wu said evaluating the building and its location will take about six months, but there is no immediate action planned for Davie Hall.

The psychology department is one of the largest undergraduate majors and received the second-highest amount of grant money out of all College of Arts and Sciences departments in 2014-15, according to its website. U.S. News and World Report ranked the department’s graduate program in the top 15 nationwide in 2013.

“We could be the best psychology department in the country,” Prinstein said. “We need a building that meets our modern needs.”

Davie Hall was originally constructed in 1901, but the majority of the building was added in 1967.

Harry Watson, professor of Southern culture, said that though rumors maintain Davie Hall was designed to protect against student riots, no such precautions would actually have been taken when the building was constructed.

“The closest thing the University has ever (had) to a riot ... is winning the ACC Championship,” he said.

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