Blanche Ward Hall

McDaniel College | WESTMINSTER, MD

Circa 1930, historic Blanche Ward Hall had served the College faithfully for decades, primarily as a dormitory for women. In fact, the 6-story building at one time had the Women’s Gymnasium for the campus located on the Ground Floor. Uninsulated masonry exterior, wood interior construction with plaster walls and outdated heating, plumbing, and telecommunications systems, the building was ready for a major overhaul to bring it into alignment with 21st-century expectations for comfort, lifestyle, aesthetics, sound control, life safety, and energy efficiency.

“Chez Blanche,” as residents affectionately now call the renovated Blanche Ward Hall, was completely updated to provide a more modern living experience, while still maintaining the traditional styling appropriate to the age of the building. The renovated main lobby and new common areas and lounges on each floor provide informal gathering areas, and finish upgrades throughout make the residence hall more comfortable. The building’s entire infrastructure including mechanical, electrical, security and data systems were improved, including new air conditioning and heating provided by an energy-efficient geothermal heat pump system. The old gymnasium space, at one time converted to Greek organization rooms, was provided with a re-framed floor and filled with new rooms to make up for student bedrooms lost by the addition of more common space area on each floor. Softwood floors were leveled and all interior walls were refinished with sound attenuating gypsum panels and insulation, making for a much quieter living.

The older original characteristics of the building, with relatively tall room ceilings and large windows in the bedrooms, combined with modern amenities and finishes, make the building very popular with students. Blanche Ward Hall should continue to serve the McDaniel College community for many graduations to come.

tag: Residence Hall, Residence Halls, Dormitory, Dormitories, Housing

Project Highlights

  • The project entailed the complete modernization of c: 1930 residence hall
  • Complete finishes upgrade of walls, ceilings and floors
  • Complete infrastructure upgrade, including all new toilet and showering facilities
  • Ground source geothermal heat pump system and wall insulation greatly increased energy efficiency and comfort
  • Large new common rooms provided on each floor
  • Phased occupied construction made possible by MCA's development of a workable phasing plan and construction schedule utilizing available swing space and taking advantage of breaks in college calendar.
  • Required increase in capacity despite addition of common room space | Gutted and rebuilt wing originally built as the women’s gymnasium to accommodate new rooms
  • New two-bedroom apartment with private outside entrance for a residence life coordinator
  • All new central laundry facility provided

Have a question about this project?

Contact Alan Bowman, AIA, LEED AP at

  • – I’m more prone to stay in my room and do my work now, …because it is so nice!
    – It’s attracting more people and making then excited about living in Blanche Ward.
    – Phenomenal! That has been my word since Day 1.

    —McDaniel College Students, as quoted in Article "Residence Hall renovations earning high marks"

Project Details

Professional Expertise

Higher Education | Historic + Adaptive Reuse

Professional Services

Architecture | Interior Design | Planning + Programming

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