Contemplating the coming construction of a new dorm, University of Colorado student Serena McKnight remarks, “This is a very good thing.”
“There are already plenty of students out here,” says McKnight of the Williams Village, a group of residence halls serving CU’s Boulder campus.
“But now there will be even more because people really like living here,” adds McKnight, a psychology and neuro science major at the university.
Architectural rendering of proposed new 700-bed residence hall. Courtesy University of Colorado Boulder
The construction of the $96.7 million building, officially called the Williams Village East Residence Hall, is just one of several projects this summer that have won the approval of CU’s Board of Regents.
Among the other proposals given a green light by the regents are the $77 million renovation of the school’s Aerospace Engineering Sciences building, and the $75 million renovation of the Hellems Arts and Sciences building.
But the new dorm project is perhaps the most pressing for the school because of its enrollment, which has jumped from some 29,000 roughly a decade ago to more 32,300 last fall.
“We’ve been seeing more and more demand from the upperclassmen and are trying to provide more space for them,” says Joshua Lindenstein, facilities communications and outreach specialist at CU.
In fact, a CU planning document published earlier this year in the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper predicted that without new dorm space the school could “potentially reach a point where there is insufficient capacity in the residence halls to support the current freshmen campus residency requirements.”
“Enrollment has been doing pretty well,” says Chris Ewing, CU’s assistant chancellor for the department of planning, design, and construction, “and obviously, on the construction side, all we’re trying to do is keep pace with that growth.”
The new dorm project at CU comes in the wake of the construction of the six-story Williams Village North Residence Hall in 2011.
That 131,200 square-foot structure cost $46.5 million to build and houses 500 beds.
The new dorm will measure 147,162 square feet, and will house up to 700 beds.
“We’re pretty excited about this,” says Ewing, noting that the new dorm space will be comprised largely of single and double-occupancy rooms, along with a handful of suites.
Construction activity in the Williams Village, which is located roughly a mile to the southeast of the main campus, has in some ways almost become a mainstay of life there.
In January of this year the new Village Center Dining and Community Commons was unveiled, a 109,000 square-foot facility that cost nearly $50 million to build.
“It’s really a beautiful building,” says student McKnight of a structure that features a 5,000 square-foot multipurpose room, health clinic, and study rooms, among other features.
“We tore down the old Darley Dining Hall there and built what is really an amazing building with a lot of cool features,” reports Lindenstein.
Main dining room at Village Center, overlooking Flatirons. Courtesy University of Colorado Boulder
Among those features is a $1.2 million greenhouse scheduled to open this fall on the second floor of the building which, says Lindenstein, “will supply all of the leafy greens for the dining hall.”
The new Williams East dorm will go up on the south side of Baseline Road near 35th Street on a site that has been made up of a parking lot and four outdoor tennis courts
Plans call for the new structure to be built to LEED Gold standards with the use of solar panels where possible.
It will be designed to match the handsome architectural style and exterior finish of Williams Village North.
The interior footprint for the building is a little under 100,000 square feet, and will include both social and recreational space. Altogether, the new dorm will have enough living space for just under 3,600 students.
Plans call for initial work to begin on the project this fall. “We’ll be starting to get the utilities in and doing the foundation work,” says Ewing.
Actual construction will begin shortly thereafter with a planned completion date in time for the fall 2019 semester.
By Garry Boulard
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