New dorms to open in 2013
Published: Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 04:02
This summer, construction crews will break ground on two East Campus residence halls, which will cost $80 million and will house approximately 1,500 students.
The new residence halls will also usher in a period of refocusing the university housing community to East Campus and begin the gradual phasing out of the Rodney and Dickinson Complexes.
In the mid-1990s, university officials began drafting plans for the revitalization of university housing, beginning with the construction of the Laird Campus housing complex in 2005.
According to David Singleton, vice president of facilities and auxiliary services, the new buildings, designed by ABHA Architects in Wilmington, will stand on the former Gilbert Complex site. The first building, to be completed in 2013, will house approximately 750 beds. The second will add another 750 beds, and is slated for completion in 2017.
In 2013, the university will close the Harrington Complex for two years for renovations.
All construction to East Campus, including the possible addition of a new wing to Kent Dining Hall, will be completed by 2017, Singleton said, and university officials will work to ensure that students' lives are not disrupted too much by the construction.
"We'll certainly make sure the contractors are very sensitive to student privacy and students' needs to study and sleep," Singleton said.
According to Roy Lopata, director of planning and development for the city of Newark, the university is exempt from city zoning restrictions. University officials must obtain a land use permit for the new buildings, but do not need the city's approval of the building's specific design plans.
Singleton said plans for the residence hall construction have not yet been finalized and university officials will likely obtain the permits in June.
He said construction will be financed by the purchase of bonds, which will be paid off using student room fees.
"They're essentially going to pay for themselves," Singleton said.
The residence halls will stand approximately five stories high, like the Laird Campus residence halls, and rooms will be similar in size to those of Laird Campus, but will be configured in traditional dorm-style, not suite-style. The common bathrooms in dorm-style residence halls are easier to manage and keep clean, Singleton said.
Kathleen Kerr, director of Residence Life, said her department has been involved in the design of the new residence halls, which will primarily house freshman students. Residence Life officials worked with architects to incorporate the right number of study lounges, as well as areas for socialization and events, into the buildings' design.
"It should be a great part of campus in terms of first-year community," Kerr said.
She said she hopes East Campus will become a vibrant area for freshmen to get acquainted with their new classmates and the university.
"They're all in the same boat and looking to meet new people and get adjusted to the new environment," Kerr said.