Renovations to Historic Wilder Hall Beginning in January

Interior upgrades will modernize the Student Union experience while preserving the building’s historic features.

January 12, 2023

Office of Communications

Front exterior view of Wilder Hall
Photo credit: Office of Communications

A multi-year capital improvement plan to upgrade Oberlin’s Student Union is officially underway, with work beginning during Winter Term 2023. 

Wilder Hall, designed by Chicago architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee—designer of the Memorial Arch on Tappan Square—opened in 1911 as a men’s dormitory. In addition to providing housing for undergraduate men, the building was conceived as a meeting and performance place, and has evolved over time into Oberlin’s Student Union.  

The building has a remarkable place in Oberlin history, and the renovation will preserve that history while providing Oberlin students with a space that invites community building and meets the functional needs of modern student involvement. Highlights of the project include:

  • Accessibility upgrades, with the addition of a new egress stair tower and a new wheelchair lift to provide access to the existing porch and south entry. 
  • Flexible dining areas and a new mail and package delivery system on the ground floor.
  • Improvements to the ballroom, entrance lobby, and Dean of Students Office on the first floor. 
  • Renovations to relocate Oberlin College and Community radio station WOBC on the fourth floor. 

The project will also incorporate a phased transition from steam heat to hot water heat and chilled water air conditioning as part of the Sustainable Infrastructure Program.

The following FAQ provides more detailed information about the project. Additional questions can be directed to Director of Capital Improvements Joe Comar (


Wilder Hall Renovation FAQ

1.  What programmatic changes are happening to Wilder Hall?

Wilder Hall is retaining most of the existing programs in the space while adding essential resources and programs for students. All current programs will experience furniture, building infrastructure, and functionality upgrades. While this is not an exhaustive list, here are a few of the exciting changes happening to Wilder Hall:

  • The Oberlin Mailroom will be upgraded with electronic package parcel lockers to better serve students.
  •  A reservable green room is being added for acts in the 'Sco.
  • An internal stair tower will be added to the west side of the building alongside mechanical upgrades that interface with the Campus-Wide SIP Project.
  • The Office of Disability and Access will move to the first floor of Wilder Hall, and it will pair with a new student accommodation testing center. This allows the office to be closer to the rest of the Center for Intercultural Engagement (MRC, OSD, International Student Resource Center) and centralizes accessibility in the renovation.
  • The Multicultural Resource Commons (MRC) will receive a larger office space on the second floor of Wilder alongside a new Multicultural Resource Commons lounge.
  • The third floor is being redesigned to allow for better meeting spaces and offices for student organizations to increase opportunities for collaboration. The third floor will serve as the new home for the Office of Student Leadership and Involvement. Oberlin will also be adding an "ESports Arena" to the third floor.
  • The fourth floor of Wilder will be the new home for WOBC, and will feature upgraded soundproofing and broadcasting technology. The fourth floor will also feature additional storage for student organizations and the Gear Co-op (band practice room).

2.  What is the project timeline?

The Wilder Hall renovation is split into multiple phases across multiple years.  The first phase, beginning now and focused on the West side of the building's basement through the fourth floor is anticipated to be completed in the Fall of 2023.  Subsequent phases that include renovations to remainder of the building will be planned and scheduled over the next several years.

3.  What feedback was gathered during the design process?

During the design phase of the project, a number of consultative and community partners offered input on Wilder Hall. This includes multiple student focus-groups and public community listening sessions. 

4. Where will impacted offices be moved? 

The following offices have been relocated during the first phase of the Renovation.

  • Office of Student Leadership and Involvement - East Third-Floor of Wilder
  • Office of Spirituality and Dialogue - Bosworth Lower level
  • WOBC Radio Station - East Fourth-Floor of Wilder

5.  What accessibility upgrades will be added to Wilder Hall?

During the renovation, a number of upgrades to the building’s accessibility will occur. Included among the upgrades are:

  • An independently operable lift on the south (main) entrance of Wilder Hall.
  • Elimination of unnecessary steps into bathrooms. 
  • Addition of private bathrooms on each floor.
  • Centralized Air-Conditioning.
  • Moving the Office of Disability and Access into Wilder Hall and the addition of a student testing center.

6.  How will I receive my mail and packages?

You may have noticed the new mail and package lockers in the Wilder Hall basement. These are part of the new student mail room locker system that is scheduled to go live during Winter Term on January 17, 2023.

From now until January 17, 2023, packages and letter mail will continue to be distributed through the existing package pick-up window and mailboxes. Students will continue to use their OCMR number as their address identifier.

Beginning January 17, 2023, when students receive mail or a package, they will receive instant delivery notifications via email. Students will have access to the locker system to pick up packages  during Wilder Hall open building hours. For more details and FAQ’s, please read below:

As part of the upcoming Wilder Hall Renovation and to better accommodate students’ busy schedules and improve the efficiency of processing more than 70,000 packages annually, Oberlin is installing electronic parcel lockers in Wilder Hall. The lockers will provide secure package pickup during Wilder Hall’s hours of operation, allowing students fast, worry-free package retrieval at a time convenient to them.

  • Packages and letter mail will be delivered Monday-Saturday and loaded into the Wilder Hall lockers by mail room staff
  • Students will get an email with locker codes/barcode. Packages and letter mail  should be picked up from lockers within 72 hours. 
  • Students will go to the appropriate locker location at their convenience. Lockers are available while Wilder Hall is open. (Hours may vary based on time of year.)
  • Students walk up to the console and enter their code or scan the barcode
  • Students sign for the package on the console
  • A locker will pop open for package and letter mail  retrieval
  • Students should close the door

FAQ for Electronic Parcel Lockers

*  What happens if you can’t pick up your package and letter mail within 72 hours?
If the locker package is not picked up within 72 hours, if the package is oversized, or requires refrigeration, students will be notified to go directly to the student mailroom window during regular business hours to obtain their packages. During break times (fall/spring break and winter term), these hours will be extended.

Packages are held for 96 hours. After 96 hours, the package is returned to the sender (RTS) unless arrangements to hold the package are made in advance.

For added convenience, and to avoid RTS, when a student is unable to pick up their package timely, they may simply forward their package notification email to a roommate or friend to pick up the package. The mail room will not be responsible for packages and letter mail  not retrieved from a roommate/friend.

*  What if I closed the locker door before I took my package and letter mail out?
Your locker codes are active for 15 minutes after locker door is closed by user.  Go to the console and re-enter your codes.

*  What if I lost my locker codes?
Lost locker codes and be reissued by the student mailroom. Please bring your student ID to the window during regular business hours.

*  What if my package and letter mail is no longer held in the locker?
After 72 hours, your package and letter mail is moved from the locker to the Student Mail Room, where it will be held for an additional 24 hours.

*  What if my codes do not work?
Go to the student mailroom window for assistance. Please bring your student ID.

*  Can a friend pick up my package and letter mail from the locker if I give them my codes?
Yes. However, if they have issues at the locker with pickup, they cannot get assistance or any re-issued codes. Only the package and letter mail  recipient can request re-issued locker codes. The mail room will not be responsible for packages and letter mail not retrieved from a roommate/friend.

7.  When is work starting?

The contractor work will begin mobilizing January 3, 2022.  Mobilizing will include: (A) reworking existing laydown fence, (B) prepping of laydown yard, (C) setting up contractor office, (D) installing temporary partition walls.  Construction activities will then begin January 5th 2022, with the make safe of MEPs on floor 1-4 followed by abatement and demolition.

8.  What will the work look like?

Work within Wilder will take place behind construction wood framed partitions separating the work zone from occupied areas of the building.  Site work that is performed outside of the laydown area will be barricaded and wayfinding signage will be provided directing pedestrians to detour routes.

9.  What are the construction working hours?

Typical working hours will be 7:00am-5:00pm. Work outside of these hours that impacts the operations of Wilder will have accompanying notices.

10.  Will parking be affected?

The other parking spots in the Wilder lot are anticipated to remain available.  Occasional closure of parking will occur in order to effect deliveries and unloading of demolition materials.   

11.  Will deliveries to Wilder be affected?

Wilder deliveries will continue to be able to access the concrete ramp leading to the West basement corridor of Wilder via the double doors.  Mail and package delivery will continue to utilize the existing mail delivery chute windows during construction.

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