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Phase I of housing plan more than 40 percent complete (PHOTOS)

Beam-signing, topping-off ceremony celebrate progress made

The Athens Campus is relatively quiet during the summer, but one area of campus saw a flurry of activity as contractors working on Phase I of Ohio University’s Housing Development Plan moved full steam ahead on the $110 million residential housing project.

Work on Phase I, which includes the construction of four new residence halls that will house just over 900 residents, a central learning commons, and a central office facility for Residential Housing, reached the 40 percent completion mark as of Aug. 13. The project, located on the former site of the Wolfe Street Apartments and adjacent lots, remains on schedule, with the new residence halls scheduled to open to students during next fall’s move-in.

Site overview

The north-facing side of Phase I of Ohio University’s Housing Development is seen in this photo taken earlier this month from the top of Morton Hall. Four of the five buildings being constructed on the site can be seen. Photo by Stephanie Luczkowski

Construction on the site began in July 2012 with the demolition of the Wolfe Street Apartments, followed by site preparation, the installation of the site’s utility infrastructure, and the pouring of foundations. Walls on the first new residence hall on the site – the northeast building located across from Nelson Dining Hall and Adams Hall – began going up in January 2014, and the 2013-14 academic year saw the raising of two of the four new housing complexes.

Construction crews kicked it into high gear after students left campus for the summer, erecting the other two residence halls on the site, installing roofing, and starting brick work. The last building to emerge on the site – the central learning commons – started to take form at the end of July.

All five buildings being built on the site are at various stages of construction, and the two large cranes that loomed above the site over the past year have been removed.

Learning commons

Framing for the central learning commons began going up the last week of July. The south side of the building is seen in this photo taken from the Ping Center parking lot. Photo by Angela Woodward

Brick work is being done on the first two buildings erected on the site – the northeast building and the southwest building. Pre-cast concrete walls as well as the pink air barrier placed between those walls and the brick exterior can be seen throughout the site.

As construction continues, progress on the project may become a little less visible as work shifts to the interior of the buildings.

“Interior framing in the northeast building has started, so we’re beginning to see the building’s living spaces developed,” explained Christine Sheets, assistant vice president for student affairs. “Windows will begin arriving next month and will start to be installed on the northeast building.”

Led by the Division of Student Affairs and the Division of Finance and Administration, the Housing Development Plan is designed to improve the residential experience and the comprehensive living-learning environment on the Athens Campus. It is the largest residential housing boom to occur on the campus since the construction of South Green in the 1960s and ’70s, which prompted OHIO’s Department of Residential Housing and University officials to plan two festivities at the end of the summer to celebrate the progress made.

While most OHIO students returned to campus last week, about 250 Bobcats came home two weeks earlier for Residential Housing’s annual Resident Assistant Orientation.

Brick work

In this photo taken from Adams Hall, workers lay brick on the east side of the northeast residence hall under construction. Photo by Angela Woodward

According to Pete Trentacoste, executive director of Residential Housing, inviting the department’s student staff to a sneak peek of the project on the first night of RA training was an easy decision.

“Given the historic nature of the residential housing project, we thought it was appropriate to use that evening event to celebrate the new residence halls being built on campus,” Trentacoste explained.

Residential Housing hosted a reception for its 300-plus staff on Aug. 11 in the Adams Hall garage. The reception included tours of a mockup of the suite-style rooms that will be featured in the new residence halls and provided the entire Residential Housing staff the opportunity to vote on color palettes that will be incorporated into the suites’ designs.

“The mockup is a complete replica of the suite rooms, and is fully set up as if students were living there,” Sheets said.

“I’m really excited,” Laura Winegar, a new resident assistant assigned to Wray House, said after touring the mockup. “I thought the rooms were really nice and a big step up from the rooms on Old South Green.”

“The suites have a really modern and clean look to them,” Chris Koester, also a new resident assistant at Wray House, said. “I also really like the floor plan these residence halls will have. They will be suite-style but also incorporate the ‘mod’ style, so it’s like building little communities within the residence halls.”

Located in a room beneath Adams Hall, the mockup was constructed by Corna Kokosing-Elford, the construction manager on the residential housing project. According to Sheets, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and others on campus will be able to tour the mockup with students interested in attending Ohio University.

In addition to tours of the mockup, Residential Housing staff was also invited to sign a beam that was placed atop of the central learning commons being constructed on the Phase I site.

Residential Housing beam signing

Residential Housing staff sign a beam that was used in constructing the new central learning commons as part of Phase I of OHIO’s Housing Development Plan. Photo courtesy the Division of Student Affairs

Ethan Marstella was one of the first resident assistants to sign the beam.

“Since it’s my last year at Ohio University, it’s nice to have the opportunity to leave some sort of legacy at the University and to be a part of OHIO as it builds for the future,” said Marstella, a resident assistant at Gamertsfelder Hall.

“I feel that in signing this beam I’m going into the very foundation of Ohio University,” said Samantha Gogol, an OHIO junior and first-time resident assistant assigned to Biddle Hall. “I’ll always be a part of this University.”

Most of the resident assistants who signed the beam signed their names, but some opted to leave little messages like “South Green Rocks” and “I Love Wray” while others noted hashtags like #OHIOUBuilds and #Impact 2014.

“Impact” is Residential Housing’s theme for the 2014-15 academic year. According to Sarah Olesky, director of residential education, the theme reflects the work Residential Housing staff performs and the role it plays on the Athens Campus.

Residential Housing at Phase 1

Members of Residential Housing’s student and professional staff pose for a group photo in front of the northeast building on the site of Phase 1 of OHIO’s Housing Development Plan during the first day of Resident Assistant Orientation. Photo by Joshua Lim/Ohio University Residential Housing

“The theme reminds us of the impact we have on our residents, our professional staff, and our student staff,” Olesky said. “And it’s a theme that is designed to help our residents understand what their impact is as well as the impact of the decisions that they make.”

The “Impact” theme was embraced at another event celebrating progress made on Phase I of the Housing Development Plan.

“When I think of Residential Housing’s ‘Impact’ theme, I can’t help but think of the impact we have made here collectively as a group,” Brent Buckley, project manager for Ohio University Design and Construction, said at a topping-off ceremony held Aug. 14 on the construction site.

Beam signing at topping off

Jenny Hall-Jones, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, and Pete Trentacoste, executive director of Residential Housing, sign the beam at a topping-off ceremony held on the Phase I site. Photo by Tasha Gardone

The event was attended by representatives from Ohio University, Corna Kokosing-Elford, and URS, the engineering and architecture firm working on Phase I. Individuals attending the event were invited to leave their mark on the same steel beam Residential Housing staff signed earlier in the week.

The ceremony ended with the beam, flanked by U.S. and Ohio University flags, being hoisted atop the central learning commons and a reception, which was held in what will be a multipurpose room in the northeast residence hall.

“This is the first major project revitalizing student housing on this campus,” said Jim Negron, executive vice president of Corna Kokosing. “It is going to change the way the outside looks in at the University, and we feel honored to be a part of something so special.”

Group shot at topping off

Representatives from Ohio University, URS, and Corna Kokosing-Elford pose for a photo at a topping-off ceremony held Aug. 14 on the site of Phase I of the University’s Housing Development Plan. The group is seen in front of the framing for the central learning commons being built on the site. Photo by Tasha Gardone

“All total, there are about 250 people working on this site,” said Jim Smith, chief executive officer at Elford Inc., who noted that this project is the first at Ohio University to be subject to state construction reforms laws enacted in 2012.

According to Sheets, the crews working on the Phase I project begin their workdays at 7 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays, performing a variety of tasks throughout the site. Pedestrians and motorists are urged to use caution when traveling around the construction area.

“The most exciting part of this project for all of us is that we get to continue the relationship we’ve been building with Ohio University,” Smith said. “We’ve gotten to know the University’s philosophy, which allows us to empower everyone working on the site so that they understand the University’s vision.”

Southwest building

Progress continues to be made on the southwest building on the Phase I site – the last residence hall to emerge on the site. This photo was taken from the top of Clippinger Hall to the west of the Phase I site. Photo by Stephanie Luczkowski

OHIO’s Housing Development Plan is more than simply a construction project; it is a vision – a vision that will be carried out in three phases over the next nine years. In addition to the construction, renovation and demolition of residence halls on the Athens Campus, the plan includes the creation of additional recreational and green spaces.

The Housing Development Plan will incorporate a “sweep concept” that will create pedestrian pathways linking South Green to West Green and upper campus, following the old railroad bed that runs through campus.

“The sweep will create a front yard for the Phase I project that will include a hillside amphitheater and gathering spaces,” explained Sheets. “The sweep will also expand South Beach to Nelson Dining Hall and to Phase I.”

View from Scott Quad

Phase I of the Housing Development Plan is seen from the roof of Scott Quad, north of the construction site, in this image captured in July. The sweep that is planned as part of the project will run along the area just north of the construction site. Photo by Todd Anderson

According to Sheets, the first phase of the sweep, connecting the northern end of the Phase I site to upper campus, will begin soon.

“During the early part of developing the Housing Development Plan, we came up with the sweep concept as a way to tie the campus together and to create an expanded and unique gathering space,” said Mike Russell, director of architecture for URS. “It’s not just about the Phase I project. It’s about tying this project to other parts of campus and creating a campus-wide amenity for everyone to enjoy.”

Phase I rendering

An artist’s rendering shows what Phase I of OHIO’s Housing Development Plan will look like once it’s completed next summer. Illustration by Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas + Company

To view real-time footage of the project, visit http://oxblue.com/open/OUHousing.

Phase I by the numbers

40: Percent of the project completed*

332: Days remaining until project completed**

215: Tons of steel used in Phase I construction

1,400: Number of pre-cast floor planks in Phase I

2,000: Approximate number of pre-cast wall panels in Phase I

3,600: Cubic yards of foundation concrete in Phase I

July 2015: Date project is to be completed by

August 2015: Scheduled opening of new residence halls

* Number as of Aug. 13

**Number as of Aug. 28

Summer packed with improvements across campus

While the Phase I project is undoubtedly the largest construction project being spearheaded by the Division of Student Affairs and the Division of Finance and Administration, construction crews were busy throughout campus over the summer, making improvements aimed at enhancing the student experience.

Work included:

Bromley Hall

The final phase of residential improvements to Bromley Hall was completed over the summer. Ohio University purchased Bromley Hall in 2001 and has continued to make improvements to the building ever since, launching a seven-phase plan to update all of the facility’s rooms in 2003. Improvements to the residence hall’s rooms included installing new finishings, flooring and furnishings. Renovations to the building’s central lobby continue and are expected to be completed fall semester.

Ping Center

Students returned to campus to find a new weight space at the Charles J. Ping Recreation Center that more than doubles the square footage of space that was available in the facility’s old weight area. The first-floor lounge at the Ping Center has been converted to a new state-of-the-art weight space, featuring all new weight equipment including a 14-station cable crossover system. The new weight space connects to the center’s old weight room, which continues to house weight equipment as well as a new open space to support functional fitness activities. New flooring, lighting and mirrors were installed as well.

Roadway projects

The South Green Drive Extension Project began over the summer and is expected to be completed by year’s end. Designed to connect South Green Drive with Mill Street, the project will provide a point of entry on the northeast end of the Athens Campus.

In addition, the roadways on Ohio University’s East Green were replaced and repaired in June.

West Green pedestrian bridge

The pedestrian bridge that connects West Green near Treudley and Boyd Halls to Richland Avenue was refurbished.

Brown Hall stairway

Repairs to the concrete stairway in front of Brown Hall on South Green were completed.

South Green roof repairs

Crawford and Mackinnon Halls on South Green both underwent roof and gutter replacements. Work on Crawford Hall is ongoing.

Room access upgrades

Ohio University is continuing to add access control measures to residence hall rooms on the Athens Campus. This summer, access control measures were added to the perimeter and entry doors in Crawford, Mackinnon, Perkins and Pickering Halls, allowing residents to access their buildings by swiping their OHIO ID rather than using a key.

Bathroom improvements

The bathrooms in Perkins and Sargent Halls were completely gutted and renovated over the summer.

West Green cabinetry work

The cabinetry at Ryors and Treudley Halls on West Green was refurbished.

South Green electrical upgrade

South Green underwent electrical upgrades over the summer designed to provide redundancy in the utility system and reduce power outages. The upgrades will increase electrical capacity to the East and South Greens.

South Green paint

South Green saw a little sprucing up over the summer with several exterior painting projects, primarily on New South Green.

In addition to all of the above improvements, several construction projects remain ongoing on the Athens Campus as OHIO builds for the future. Information on ongoing construction projects is available here.