New residence hall next step in campus master plan

North Bluff Residence Hall should be done with construction this summer and ready for students to move in with the start of the fall semester.

The opening of North Bluff, a $66 million project spanning seven stories and 970 beds, marks the end of Rose Towers, a residence hall near Jack Warner Parkway that will be torn down when the first phase of North Bluff is up-and-running.

When Rose Towers has been removed from campus, the second phase of North Bluff will begin construction, adding about 860 beds to campus upon opening in fall 2014, according to Cathy Andreen, director of media relations.

The work of University President Robert Witt to raise enrollment numbers along with the academic quality of the student body has led to a rapid increase of residence halls in the past decade with the construction of Riverside Residential Community in 2005, Bryant Residence Hall and Lakeside Residential Community in 2006 and Ridgecrest East and West in 2007.

“Our construction of new residence halls over the last seven years has been in response to the University’s projected growth in enrollment and the desire to provide housing accommodation that meets the needs of today’s students,” said Alicia Browne, associate director for information and communication of housing and residential communities.

In July 2010, Browne said that construction of residence halls from 2005 onward has been a direct response to the growth in the student body.

The first phase of North Bluff will place the University’s on-campus housing capacity at just under 7,800. In comparison, the housing capacity in the year 2000 was at 4,500. That leap in on-campus housing has cost the University more than $240 million since the turn of the century, according to a 2010 Crimson White article.

HRC anticipates housing incoming freshmen and some returning students in North Bluff, although the exact population of the residence hall is still to be determined, Browne said.

North Bluff will feature a student courtyard and surface parking. The classical architecture designed into new residence halls such as Ridgecrest South will be repeated in North Bluff.

“North Bluff is substantially similar to Ridgecrest South, which contains numerous classical proportions and elements on a larger scale,” said Tim Leopard, assistant vice president for construction. “Rose Towers never contained any classical elements and, therefore, never really fit in with the rest of campus architecturally. In the end, you would like a campus that has a variety in a narrow range to promote an image and complimentary architectural theme.”

The campus master plan, a conceptual map of the University revised every five years, has been updated to identify future locations for student housing besides the two phases of the North Bluff construction, said Dan Wolfe, University planner. North Bluff I and North Bluff II, however, are the only residence halls with an established construction schedule.

The 2012 campus master plan encompasses more than just residence halls. Signage, sidewalks, bike lanes, roads, parking, landscaping and reforesting also constitute the designing components of the campus master plan.

“Master plans, in general, are very important during times of rapid growth,” Wolfe said. “All of these components are looking 10 to 15 years into the future and are based on growth projections.”

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