By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
University plans for a new residence hall are making progress with the possibility of construction by 2004, officials report.
The hall, which has been discussed for the past several years, would be different from other campus residence halls in that it could change resident specifications from year to year.
“In the next two to three years, we’ll be looking at a new residence hall,” said Wayne Barnard, dean of Campus Life.
The hall will likely be built across Campus Court from Edwards and Mabee halls. Unlike other halls on campus, it would be built in units or “pods,” said Kevin Watson, director of physical resources.
Each pod would contain about 30-35 students on three floors. Each room would hold two students and open into a floor-wide common area used for studying and living space, Watson said.
Each pod could be either a men’s or women’s pod, depending on the year’s campus housing situation.
Construction of the hall will depend greatly on enrollment, which has been projected to decline this semester for the first fall-semester drop since the 1980s. Before this year, residence halls had been plagued by overcrowding, which led to consideration of the new hall.
After working out zoning issues with the city, the university decided on the parking lot space across from campus, which could lead to problems in the already congested area around Campus Court.
“Parking will continue to be part of the equation,” Barnard said, adding that the buildings are designed in such a way as to allow a minimal net loss of parking.
Watson said the buildings could be constructed individually as needed but that costs would be lower if all the pods were built at once. Current plans call for four pods with the possibility of a fifth across from Zona Luce.
Barnard and Watson both said that while enrollment plays a large part in determining when the hall will be built, other considerations also will be factored.
“I have more and more upperclassmen asking to live on campus,” Barnard said. He said University Park apartments is more than 99 percent filled, and upperclassman concerns would play a large part in determining the construction and makeup of the new hall.
Watson added that while increased enrollment would definitely spur the construction, upcoming decisions on the efficiency and usefulness of old halls such as McDonald could also play a part.
“If enrollment rises and we’re pushed, then we might build it post-haste,” Watson said. “The optimal would be that enrollment would stimulate that.”