Walking detour from Van Bokkelen to Smith Halls expected until 2026

By Decker A. Handlir, Contributing Writer

In preparation for upcoming renovations of Smith Hall, a corresponding detour from Van Bokkelen Hall to Smith Hall was erected ahead of the fall semester to ensure pedestrian safety. 

The detour is expected to remain until the completion of the Smith Hall renovations in December 2026, according to an email from Ken Keady, project manager. The detour spans approximately 1,400 feet from where Van Bokkelen Hall meets Glen Drive, to the end of Glen Drive on the north side of Smith Hall. 

The detour blocks off three separate walkways and a staircase in front of Smith Hall on the east side of the building. It adds an additional 150 feet of walking for students who go around, rather than cut through, Freedom Square, Keady estimated. 

“It’s pretty lengthy … it gets kind of crowded especially during the times when everyone’s going to class,” said Davonte Young, a senior. “It’s weird because it’s a bunch of different walkways and everybody kind of runs into each other … it just gets hectic.”

Senior Kathryn Brueck said she used to cut through the Glen Arboretum to get to class. Its entrances behind Smith Hall are now blocked off, and she said it takes longer having to go around the building.

Students walk around the fenced-off area. An additional pathway is made inaccessible by the fences. (Cody Campbell/The Towerlight)

Additionally, the accessible parking spots next to Van Bokkelen Hall and in front of the Media Center are now fenced off. 

Facilities Management and Parking & Transportation Services had a meeting to ensure adequate accessible parking is available, according to Keady. Because those spots are no longer available, additional spots have been added to the parking lot in the back of Stephens Hall. 

The newly renovated building will house the communications, mass communications and electronic media and film departments, The Towerlight reported

New features will include a newsroom, TV recording and audio production studios, a 250-seat screening theater, a media art gallery and more, the renovation webpage says.  

The demolition phase is said to begin later this year and will start the long renovation process of Smith Hall set to end in 2026, Keady said. 

While the detour will be up for that whole period, some students seem to not mind taking a longer walk during their on-foot commute. 

Adam Ruck, a first-year graduate student, said everywhere he needs to go is still accessible. 

“I actually have a small electric bike and I take it through all the pathways here, so it really hasn’t affected me too much,” said Tyman Do, a freshman.


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