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North Campus could soon feature new residence halls

North Campus could see some significant changes, including the addition of 3,200 new beds and new program space, pending approval by the Board of Trustees.

The project would be in conjunction with a two-year live-on plan that would require freshmen and sophomores to live on campus.

The Board of Trustees approved $4 million in September to finance professional services, including a contract with an architectural firm, said Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president for student life.

Scott Conlon, director of projects for Facilities Operations and Development, said the construction plan came out of the university framework plan and President E. Gordon Gee’s support of the two-year live-on plan.

The One University Framework is a plan to make the university more connected and ensure that its academic vision drives its physical appearance.

Conlon said they are working with an architect and setting up a business model, though many of the details are yet to be determined.

The buildings the plan will affect are still unknown, but Conlon said their hope is to construct new residence halls on the 27-acre area of land on North Campus.

Also included in the plan are changes to dining facilities and possibly recreation facilities.

The Office of Student Life has set standards for how much recreation and dining space students should have, so North Campus facilities will need to meet those standards in order to accommodate a larger number of students, Conlon said.

Gee spoke definitively about the project with The Lantern in February.

He said he hopes to have 3,200 beds added by 2016, at which time he said he would like the two-year live-on requirement to be put in place.

Conlon said he is “fairly optimistic” and that the project could be completed by 2015, but would have to be incremental over a possible three-year period.

Another looming unknown factor is the project’s budget.

The budget is a wide-range and not solely dependent on how much the construction of the buildings will cost, but also how much the university is interested in investing, Conlon explained.

OSU is renovating South Campus residence halls, and the budget for that project is $172 million. The North Campus renovation is expected to add more beds than the South Campus project.

Conlon said they are considering alternative energy sources and the installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system, similar to the system being installed on South Campus, though there is not as much space.

“It would be more of a challenge geographically just because there isn’t a large green space there already that will remain,” he said.

Making the area livable for students during construction is a main concern, Conlon said, especially considering the lack of green space.

“It’s a lot of forethought and planning into how we can do this so it’s comfortable for the students who are still living there at the time,” Conlon said.

Building a new dining hall first would allow students, who might get to see the finished residence halls, to take advantage of immediate benefits well before the project is complete, Conlon said.

Nick Messenger, Undergraduate Student Government president, said the project would be a part of the “much-needed facelift” that the university is undergoing.

“In order to become a top 10 public university in this country, we have to renovate academic buildings, we have to renovate residence halls, we have to improve the facilities,” Messenger said.

Newer facilities like the Ohio Union, RPAC and William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library are selling points for prospective students, Messenger said.

But for a long time, the residence halls have not matched those facilities, Messenger said.

Gee said the university has “more construction than we possibly could imagine” but constantly reminds people “you never want to be at a place unless there are … a lot of cranes.”

Even with Gee’s reminder, Messenger said he knows campus construction can be frustrating to students.

“Despite the irritation of the construction workers and the jackhammering, the cranes (going) up and down at 8 a.m. waking students up, the net benefit is huge,” Messenger said.

Conlon said the completed plan should be brought before the Board of Trustees in April. If approved, they will move forward with a budget and timeline for completion of the project.

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