Phase One Of New Dorms At OU Set To Open In Fall 2015

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The Ohio University Board of Trustees received an update on the first phase of the university’s master housing plan on Thursday. Four new dormitories along with a learning commons building are slated to be complete on South Green by fall 2015.

Back in 2010, an ad hoc committee was formed at the university to look at ways to improve the university’s on-campus housing stock, including constructing new residence halls to attract and retain students.

On Thursday, Harry Wyatt, associated vice president for facilities, and Ryan Lombardi, vice president of student affairs, updated the trustees on the university’s progress on the first phase of the plan.

According to Wyatt, the first of the three phases has a budget of $110 million, with $100 million coming from university debt issuance and the remainder paid for out of OU Housing Auxiliary Reserves.

Some of the design principles for the East Green and South Green sector plan include focusing design and amenities toward first- and second-year students while incorporating flexibility for future generations and campus needs; creating a welcoming atmosphere; providing 21st Century amenities through technology; providing a sense of community; respecting and maintaining the historic palette and character of OU with a balance of modern design; and making sustainability a priority.

The first phase of the housing plan is being implemented on South Green Drive between Clippinger Laboratories and Adams Hall. The Wolfe/Ullom apartment building at the site was demolished last year and earthwork has begun.

The housing plan is included in the university's six-year capital improvement plan.

Lombardi said the first phase will include four residence halls with a “learning commons” building in the center. He said the residence halls will have a total of 916 beds with 78 percent of the rooms being doubles and the remaining as single rooms. He said the dorms will incorporate more modern elements, including common space scattered throughout the buildings to create a community atmosphere.

“We don’t want people to always stay in their rooms,” Lombardi said. “We want to promote community within a community.”

Lombardi said there’s also the possibility of creating “thematic living” quarters such as rooms and common spaces for students focused on sustainability or diversity.

Unlike many older residence halls on campus that have cinder block walls, designers of the new dorms said that drywall would make the dorms more adaptable for future renovations, if needed.

The new dorms will also have large multipurpose rooms that could serve as a quiet place for studying or programming. Lombardi cited exercise classes or discussions with faculty as examples of possible programming uses. The multipurpose rooms in the dorms will be approximately 1,000 square feet.

The learning commons building will be approximately 19,000 square feet with a more modern glass front on the structure. The space will include classrooms for academics and seminars. Lombardi said this will incorporate teaching and group work in the residential areas of campus.

According to Lombardi, the learning commons building included in Phase I will also become the new home to the central housing office, which is currently located in Chubb Hall.

The university will allow students to aid in the final design process by gathering their opinion on color schemes of the dorms, according to Lombardi.

The new residence halls will house two faculty apartments with three bedrooms each. Lombardi said that OU has offered faculty housing in dorms for a while and that the number of faculty families living in the residence halls doubled from three last year to six this academic year. He said the faculty apartments in the new dorms will have their own separate entrance for privacy.

Wyatt said that Phase I of the housing plan has a “very aggressive” construction schedule. He said that the new area will be constructed from the outside in, with the learning commons building being constructed last. The first phase of the housing plan is expected to be open for occupancy by fall 2015.

Once the first phase is completed and occupied, OU has plans to demolish some of the old residence halls on the back of South Green, according to Wyatt.

OU President Roderick McDavis told the trustees that the construction of the new residence halls has created a “buzz” on campus and initiated several conversations surrounding growth and development on the Athens Campus among students and staff.