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$51M dorm project moving on up

Joe Podelco / Lantern photographer

A new residence hall under construction on South Campus is on budget and on time, but some students are inconvenienced by the amount of construction at residence halls.

The Hall Complex Expansion Phase II, also referred to as the new 10th Avenue residence hall, is on track give a home to 510 students by the start of the 2012 academic year.

The building currently does not have a name, but will likely have a title relating to its location on 10th Avenue, said Thyrone Henderson, associate director for University Residence Life.

Construction on the building is scheduled to be completed by June 15, 2012. Dorm rooms will be suite style with three bedrooms, two students per room. Rooms will also include a living area, an individual toilet room and a shower room with three sinks.

Individual rooms will be about 125 square feet and include a 29 square foot walk-in closet to be shared by the two students in each room.

The six-floor building will have 533 beds, 510 for students, 16 resident adviser beds and seven apartments on the first floor, said Ruth Miller, project manager.

“President (E. Gordon) Gee has an initiative to have sophomores live on campus and this is part of that initiative … to add more beds to the inventory,” Miller said.

The building was intended to be an upperclassmen dorm, meaning a sophomore-and-up community, but Henderson said they are unsure if this will be the case.

“We’re certainly open to what is the best depending on learning communities,” Henderson said. “At this point it could be that it will be a mix, but it wasn’t built specifically for first-years.”

The total project budget was $51 million, with a $37 million construction budget.

“We will finish under budget,” Miller said. “We don’t have any big problems that would make us not finish under.”

First-floor apartments will initially be staff apartments that could eventually house faculty and guests to the university, Henderson said.

The building wasn’t complete in time for the closure of two first-year residence halls, Park Hall and Stradley Hall, for the 2011-2012 school year. This caused many first-year students to be placed with four roommates in formerly a two-person residence hall.

Autumn Ward, a first-year in biomedical engineering, was placed into one of the two-person residence hall rooms turned into four-person rooms to accommodate more students in Drackett Tower.

“I think new dorms are necessary for future residents because it was kind of a hassle for us,” Ward said. “It’s very tiny … there’s no room for very many things at all. You kind of just have room for your bed and your desk, then you kinda just have to avoid everyone else and it’s conflicting.”

Ward said living in Drackett wasn’t her first choice in a residence hall coming here and felt she was probably placed there because of the situation on south campus, which she considered for housing.

She wasn’t aware what her living situation would be before coming to campus but said she felt it “was going to be a little bigger.” Her bad experience might cause her to live off-campus next year.

“My roommates are nice so far. You just kind of need your space,” Ward said. “It’s really tight.”

Building construction started December 2010, after being approved by the University Board of Trustees in May 2010, Miller said.

“Both with this project on 10th (and) with the south high-rise, it’s an effort to compute some of the extra demand for students we weren’t able to accommodate on an annual basis,” Henderson said.

Students aren’t exactly thrilled about all of the construction going on for updates.

Jacob Marzec, a first-year in biochemistry, lives in Siebert Hall on 11th Avenue. He said the noise of construction isn’t what irritates him, it’s the view.

“I think a university has to always keep, you know, being the best so they always have to have construction but … it’s just too much,” Marzec said. “Everywhere I go I see construction.”

Part of the construction involved implementing concepts that would help the building achieve LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, silver accreditation.

Designers hope that the large glass windows letting in a lot of natural light will reduce the usage of light fixtures in the building. Efficient plumbing fixtures and water efficient landscaping will help the push for a reduction in water usage, and the white roofing will reflect heat.

The complex expansion will also use geothermal energy heating and cooling.

Indoor bicycle storage is another added feature which Miller said will help “promote bike transportation versus car transportation.”

Henderson described the building as a “much different residence hall than what we have (anywhere else.)”

The U-shaped layout creates a west, center and east section of the building with unique features.

Housing designed the building with openings near the wall where residents can see above or below, and connect with one another, Henderson said. The space is an opening, much like that of a bridge, with railings that will allow students to see but also interact with the students. The openings connect floors one to two, three to four, and five to six.

Stairwells also connect these pairs, but do not connect each floor.

“We wanted to create another opportunity for there to be a connection between more than one floor so we have a horizontal and vertical community,” Henderson said.

Construction on the project used at least 90 percent Ohio workers, Miller said, along with Ohio-based materials including structural steel, roofing materials and brick masonry.

The new dorm will open as three other dorms on south campus (Smith Hall, Steeb Hall and Siebert Hall) will be closing for the 2012-2013 school year.

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