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Construction on new residence halls within 90 days of completion

For more than two years, members of the Ohio University community have watched as the southeastern end of the Athens Campus has transformed wall by wall, brick by brick and shingle by shingle. When the Bobcat Family returns to the campus in August, they will see the final results of that transformation as the University celebrates the opening of the next generation of student housing.

In less than 90 days, construction on four new residence halls and a central living/learning center will be complete, marking a major milestone in the first of OHIO’s three-phase Housing Development Plan designed to improve the residential experience and the comprehensive living-learning environment on the Athens Campus.

Phase I-1

This photo taken in mid-April from Morton Hall to the north of the construction site shows a comprehensive view of Phase I of OHIO’s Housing Development Plan. A webcam, provided by Corna Kokosing-Elford, is available at http://oxblue.com/open/OUHousing. Clicking on the play button at the top of the page allows the viewer to watch a time-lapse video of the project. Photo by Joanna Stoltzfus/Division of Student Affairs

As of April 15, construction on Phase I of the Housing Development Plan, located on the former site of the Wolfe Street Apartments and adjacent lots, had reached the 84 percent completion mark. Construction on the first of the four residence halls to emerge on the site – the northeast building – is scheduled to be complete within the coming week. The remaining three residence halls – the southwest, southeast and northwest buildings – have construction completion dates set for May 26, June 25 and July 8, respectively, with the centerpiece of the project – the living/learning center – set for a July 16 completion date. The new housing community will welcome its first Bobcat residents during move-in weekend in August.

“This is one of the most exciting and largest projects to have occurred on the Athens Campus in a while,” said Christine Sheets, assistant vice president for student affairs. “It’s not only transforming the physical appearance of the campus but taking the residential experience at OHIO to a new level.”

Inside Phase I

All four of the new residence halls offers suite-style living with most of the 912 bedrooms on the site designated as doubles and approximately 20 percent set aside as singles.

Phase I-2

The first of the four residence halls to emerge on the Phase I site – the northeast building – is seen in this photo taken in mid-April from Morton Hall. Construction on this building is slated for completion this week. Photo by Joanna Stoltzfus/Division of Student Affairs

At four stories tall, the new residence halls boast spectacular views of much of the Athens Campus as well as the Appalachian hillsides that surround the University. A plethora of windows of various shapes and sizes, combined with wide hallways and open communal areas, floods the buildings with natural light.

In addition to spacious living areas, the residence halls offer state-of-the-art features – everything from individual room controls for heating and cooling to water fountains that include water dispensers to fill containers to monitors alongside each of the building’s elevators that will display Residential Housing and other campus information. Each of the residence halls also includes a laundry facility.

The four residence halls will be divided into two complexes – with the northeast and southeast buildings being one complex and the northwest and southwest buildings being the other. Each of the buildings has its own unique amenities that will serve their individual complexes. The northern buildings will offer a multipurpose room, completed with furniture, a television and a fireplace, as well as a small kitchen suitable primarily for baking, both of which will be available by reservation through Residential Housing. The southern buildings will include large, open two-story lounge areas that will offer study spaces, ping pong tables and space for recreational programs. Those buildings are also connected to the site’s living/learning center.

Phase I-9

The living/learning center is seen in this photo taken April 13 from the fourth floor of the northeast building. Photo by Angela Woodward

A shared resource available to the entire community, the living/learning center will be the first of its kind in OHIO’s residential environment. A two-story facility located in the center of the site, the first floor of the center will include two Registrar-controlled smart classrooms that can be opened up into a single space for larger programs, a conference room, and a mailroom that will serve the four residence halls as well as nearby Adams Hall. The second floor will house the new central office for Residential Housing, which will be relocating from Chubb Hall. Study spaces will be available throughout the building, including in its window-filled, two-story foyer, and both floors of the living/learning center will feature flexible office space that could be used by faculty and staff interested in holding office hours or providing services inside students’ living environment.

Outside Phase I

In addition to the work being completed inside the buildings on the site, a transformation is occurring on and around the site as well.

In the past few weeks, contractors have been installing urbanite, also known as broken concrete, walls around the perimeter on the southern end of the site. Consistent with the historical look of the University, similar stone features can be found throughout the Athens Campus, including throughout East Green.

Phase I-5

Contractors have been installing this urbanite wall along the southern perimeter of the Phase I site. Photo by Angela Woodward

In the next few months, sod will be laid throughout the site, the finishing touches will be added to rain gardens located to the east of the southeast building, and a brick sculpture surrounding a nearby generator will be installed. A special feature of the site, the sculpture will serve as a sort of gateway and tribute to OHIO’s South Green.

Phase I-4

The southeast (left) and northeast (right) buildings are seen in this photo taken in mid-April from Adams Hall to the east of the Phase I site. Along the bottom of the photo is what will be rain gardens (to the right) and the generator area (in the center) that will serve the entire site. The generator area will be surrounded by a special brick sculpture that will be installed later this month. Photo by Joanna Stoltzfus/Division of Student Affairs

OHIO’s Housing Development Plan also includes the creation of additional recreational and green spaces, incorporating a “sweep concept” designed to create pedestrian pathways and green space linking the campus’ East and South Greens to West Green and the upper campus. Phase I of the plan includes Phase A of the sweep, which will run from University Terrace north of the site to South Beach’s sand volleyball courts.

Work on Phase A of the sweep will kick into high gear this summer and will include the construction of an amphitheater near Morton Hall, the creation of open green space and the completion of fully accessible sidewalks.

Phase I’s pioneer residents

More than 900 members of the OHIO community will be the first to occupy the Phase I residence halls.

According to Pete Trentacoste, executive director of Residential Housing, two of the buildings have been reserved for upperclassmen, one for first-year students, and another for a mix of first-year students and upperclassmen.

Room selection for upperclassmen is underway with room selection for first-year students slated to begin this month.

“Room selection has gone very well,” Trentacoste said. “Our suite options (including Adams and Bromley Halls) were very popular with upperclassmen. By the third day of room selection, most of our suite options had been selected.”

Phase I-3

The southwest building is seen in this photo taken in mid-April from Clippinger Laboratories to the west of the Phase I site. Photo by Joanna Stoltzfus/Division of Student Affairs

And, come August when the University celebrates the opening of these new living environments, the students living in those buildings should know the name of their new home.

Trentacoste and Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones co-chaired a 14-member naming committee for the buildings. The committee, which included students, faculty, staff and alumni, is submitting name recommendations to President Roderick J. McDavis who is expected to present a naming proposal to the Board of Trustees at its June meeting.

“The most difficult piece of our work was narrowing our list of considerations,” Trentacoste said. “There are so many outstanding individuals in the history of Ohio University who are worthy of this honor.”

Post-construction to-dos

When contractors turn the Phase I site over to the University in July, there will still be several tasks to complete before the building’s new occupants move in.

According to Sheets, several Ohio University departments will converge on the site once construction is wrapped up to do everything from general cleanup to the installation and testing of televisions, access control measures and other equipment. One of the most significant tasks will be the moving in of thousands of pieces of furniture and hundreds of mattresses.

“It’s a big production just to get the furniture in,” Sheets said, explaining that those overseeing the process have developed a schedule designed to coordinate those deliveries and minimize the impact to roadways around the site.

Phase I-8

A wing of the northeast building, as well as its multipurpose room at the end of the building, is seen in this photo taken April 13 from the fourth floor of the northeast building. Photo by Angela Woodward

The first new residents – the staff in Residential Housing – are expected to move in to their new offices on or around Aug. 3.

“Our office is very enthusiastic, not only about the upcoming move but also about the new living/learning center where we will be located,” Trentacoste said. “It’s going to be a great building for our department as well as our students.”

Beyond Phase I

A $110 million project led by the Division of Student Affairs and the Division of Finance and Administration, Phase I of OHIO’s Housing Development Plan is part of a larger housing master plan for the University’s East and South Greens. It follows the construction of Adams Hall, a suite-style residence hall that opened in the fall of 2007, as well as renovations to several residence halls on East Green, most recently Bush Hall. East Green’s Jefferson Hall is set to undergo a three-year, more than $40 million renovation that begins fall semester.

Phase I-10

One of the round windows located on the fourth floor of the northeast building provides a view of the northwest building. Photo by Angela Woodward

Once Phase I opens in August, the University will begin to focus on Phase II of the Housing Development Plan. Preliminary work on the first part of Phase II will begin over this summer when the University begins preparing Cady, Foster and Brough Houses on OHIO’s South Green for demolition.

“We’ll be moving furnishings out of those buildings, surplusing and reusing some of it in different areas on campus,” Sheets explained. “We’ll also be doing utility disconnects and reroutes, as well as some asbestos abatement in those facilities.”

Demolition of those three residence halls is slated for the summer of 2016.

According to Sheets, the next steps in Phase II involve stepping back and evaluating the Housing Development Plan and how it will be incorporated into the University’s Comprehensive Master Plan, which is in the process of being developed. The purpose of that plan is to provide a roadmap and long-term vision for OHIO’s Athens and Dublin campuses.

Phase I by the numbers

2: Number of two- and three-bedroom apartments for faculty-in-residence and Residential Housing’s professional live-in staff

4: Number of residence halls being built

75: Percentage of living-learning center complete*

77: Percentage of northwest building complete*

82: Percentage of southeast building complete*

84: Percentage of Phase I complete*

86: Percentage of southwest building complete*

94: Percentage of northeast building complete*

217: Number of beds in southern residence halls

239: Number of beds in northern residence halls

912: Total number of beds in Phase I

*Number as of April 15