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February 28, 2003

Residence plan includes demolition, construction

Architectural drawing of the Union Drive community center,
looking northwest from Friley Hall.
Architectural drawing of the Union Drive community center, looking northwest from Friley Hall.
by Anne Krapfl
Westgate Hall -- west of the student health center -- will be demolished, and Storms Hall -- the northwest anchor of the "Towers" -- will close this summer as part of the residence department's master plan.

But, in their place, construction will begin on the second suite-style building south of State Gym. And remodeling work on Buchanan Hall, delayed a year by a design that exceeded the budget, will commence. The unnamed suite building and Buchanan are scheduled to be ready for fall 2004.

Also on the construction list for this summer is the completion in August of the new community center on Union Drive and early work on a new community center that will straddle the north campus apartment communities of Schilletter Village and University Village. It will include a relocated Pammel Grocery and should open sometime during spring semester 2004.

It's all part of a multi-million dollar, multi-year plan to replace aging and traditional "dormitory" rooms with halls that offer students more of the kinds of space they want, including private or semi-private bathrooms, floor kitchens, lounges, study/class rooms, computer labs and fitness areas.

Numbers steady
Residence director Randy Alexander said all the tearing down and building up won't significantly change the number of beds in the residence system.

"The primary goal of the master plan is to replace older, less marketable beds in our system with new options, not to enlarge the size of the system dramatically," he said. "The question we always have to ask ourselves is how many apartments or rooms can we build -- and pay for over 12 months -- that basically are occupied for nine months?"

What also is changing is where students are concentrated. The Union Drive halls (Friley, Helser, Eaton) and Richardson Court halls (essentially halls with tree names) are focusing on freshman and sophomore students. The campus fringe housing, including Buchanan Hall, the Towers and Frederiksen Court apartments, target upper-division single students.

Beginning this fall, a new residence policy will reserve up to 75 percent of the Union Drive and Richardson Court spots for incoming freshmen, with the other 25-plus percent available for returning students. The policy guarantees freshmen rooms where they want them -- close to central campus.

The goal, Alexander said, is to avoid two scenarios that have had a negative effect on retaining residence hall freshmen at the university: a room assignment at the Towers or a temporary assignment in a study lounge or den until a room spot opens up.

Alexander said that freshmen and their parents view the distance from the Towers to central campus as a significant problem. He said most students assigned to Towers did not request to be there, although most end up satisfied with the community.

A long-term plan to rejuvenate Friley Hall will begin later this year with a study that will identify strategies and a timeline for phased improvements.

"Friley was built for men and at a time when barrack-like halls were acceptable," Alexander said. "There is little community space -- study rooms, kitchens, classrooms -- so that's one of the things this feasibility study will help us with."

Other needs in Friley include more restrooms, central air conditioning instead of window units and accessibility changes, he said.

"From this study will come a plan of action, we think probably for lots of smaller projects," Alexander said.

Eaton Hall, the first suite-style building in the Union Drive neighborhood and noted for generous amounts of community space, has been enormously popular in its first year, Alexander said. Of 1,200 freshman housing contracts received so far, 30 percent of the applicants requested a spot in Eaton.

Demolition list
A north wing of Helser Hall was removed in the summer of 2001 to clear space for the Union Drive community center. The remainder of Helser Hall is scheduled to come down in the summer of 2007. Storms Hall and its Towers partner, Knapp Hall, also will be demolished, during the summers of 2006 and 2008, respectively. Knapp Hall will close at the end of spring semester 2004.

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Published by: University Relations,
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