May 4, 2001

West Campus Dorm Initiative Progressing

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The West Campus Residential Initiative continues to move forward, and committees are busy planning programs to create a successful living-learning environment for upperclassmen.

The aim of the initiative is to build five student living-learning units on West Campus to replace the existing class halls, which will be demolished along with the Noyes Community Center. Each new dorm will host 350 students.

The new units are intended to be relatively self-sufficient, as dining halls, libraries and other services will be included within each building.

Another goal of the new housing project is to “bring the learning environment to the residences,” said student elected trustee Leslie Barkemeyer ’03, who is one of five student members of the West Campus Living Learning Council.

Working toward the development of the academic environment in the residences, graduate students may replace undergraduate Resident Advisors and could also serve as academic advisors to the residents, according to Barkemeyer.

“We are still in the conceptual stage,” said Jean Reese, project leader for the residential initiative.

For Reese, what is currently being reviewed is the “program document,” a space by space guideline for what each house will include.

“We wrapped up what we call the comprehensive plan for West Campus,” said John Kiefer, project director, adding that the document “identifies the game plan for putting each piece of the puzzle together.”

Also this semester, the scope of the statement on environmental impact for the project was fixed, according to Kiefer.

Currently, sub-committees are directing their effort to come up detailed plans for the implementation of services in the new units, including committees on house administration and student services.

The council will also work to identify challenges associated with the future projects.

As the actual construction work approaches, “there will probably be a lot more dialogue toward problem-solving,” said Barkemeyer, noting inevitable difficulties with building over the current parking lot on West.

The next step toward construction is the selection of an architect. According to Prof. Isaac Kramnick, government, a “large group of architectural firms has been whittled down to a group of finalists,” from which the committee will select the architect for the first house later this month.

In the meantime, committees are “working with architects to review the comprehensive site plan,” Reese said, adding that “in the fall, we plan to get into the schematic site plan of the first house.”

According to Reese, the project will still be in the planning stages for the next 18 months, with construction set to begin in 2003.

Archived article by Stacy Williams