UW Today

February 23, 2011

Building community –- ‘with convenience — on west campus

News and Information

To Housing & Food Services, the multibuilding student housing project under way on west campus is about more than just boosting the student bed count — its about creating a whole new neighborhood.

The new building temporarily called Poplar Hall, along Campus Parkway. | Photo by Mary Levin.

The new building temporarily called Poplar Hall, along Campus Parkway. | Photo by Mary Levin.

As passers-by know well, HFS has four new student residences under way in the first phase of its long-term building plan. The projects are on time and budget, HFS says. Two will be completed this fall and two the fall of 2012.

The new buildings will include a number of amenities to serve the residential student population, such as an academic resource center, a fitness center and an auditorium. A new restaurant and neighborhood market will also be available to faculty and staff.

The buildings also will present new opportunities for conferences coming to campus during the summer, of which HFS handles scores a year.

The new building temporarily known as Cedar Hall, along 41st Street. | Photo by Mary Levin

The new building temporarily known as Cedar Hall, along 41st Street. | Photo by Mary Levin

“Were really creating a whole new neighborhood here on west campus … a sort “of public domain, if you will,” said Rob Lubin, HFS associate director for capital planning. “Were bringing retail to the street front to really make for a lively and engaging atmosphere.”

He said a guiding thought for such development is “the 10-10-10 rule, where a person really engages with the things that are 10 feet into the building, 10 feet out into the sidewalk and 10 feet up. Thats really the zone of interaction for a person, so were trying to make sure that is lively.”

The projects have been given temporary names on an arboreal theme. The student apartments have fully-equipped kitchens and one bathroom for every two bedrooms, and the residence halls have double rooms, each with a bathroom.

  • Cedar Apartments, along 41st street between 11th and 12th streets NE., student apartments, 346 beds. Opening fall 2011.
  • Poplar Hall, along Campus Parkway at Brooklyn Ave. NE., 273 beds. A learning resource center will also be located in the building. Opening fall 2011.
  • Elm Hall, along Campus Parkway between Brooklyn Ave. NE and 12th Ave. NE, 442 beds. A fitness center and restaurant named Cultivate will be included. Scheduled to open fall 2012.
  • Alder Hall, along Campus Parkway (next to Lander Hall) between University Way NE and Brooklyn Ave. NE. 548 beds. An auditorium and neighborhood market will be included. Scheduled to open fall 2012.
The building temporarily called Elm Hall, scheduled to open in 2012, is under way across the street from the College Inn. The inn is seen in the background alongside Gould Hall. | Photo by Mary Levin.

The building temporarily called Elm Hall, scheduled to open in 2012, is under way across the street from the College Inn. The inn is seen in the background alongside Gould Hall. | Photo by Mary Levin.

The total project cost for the first, four-building phase is $160 million. HFS is financially self-sustaining, so these buildings are going up at no cost to taxpayers.

The slumped economy is tough on consumers, but tends to make contractors more competitive for available work. “Weve been getting incredible design teams that come to help us design these buildings and weve really been having excellent participation from the general contractor and the subcontractor communities,” Lubin said. “The A teams from all of these companies are coming and soliciting jobs and thats really allowed us to have their best work — a good product.”

The four new buildings will equal about 1,600 beds total. The projects next phases, reaching out to the year 2021, will include additional residence halls and apartment buildings and the renovation of the existing residence halls.

The building for now being called Alder Hall will have a neighborhood market at street level.| Illustration by Mahlum Architects.

The building for now being called Alder Hall will have a neighborhood market at street level.| Illustration by Mahlum Architects.

Laury Phillips, HFS marketing manager, said the new residence halls also will offer special program-based communities. “Poplar Hall will have a sustainable living community, which will offer residents opportunities to explore environmental impact and social equity topics.” Staff members at the College of the Environment are campus partners for this community, she said, “and will provide insight and access to programs and opportunities.”

The project received support and help from many parts of the UW community, Lubin said. “The Capital Projects Office, the UW Treasury Office, UW Real Estate, and certainly the leadership of the University — there was a lot of collaboration to fund, design and build these sites. A lot of communication between various departments, and really focused groups of people coming together,” he said.

 Above, workers bring lumber through a window of what's for now being called Cedar Hall. Below, you can see the workers through the screen mesh outside the building. | Photos by Mary Levin.

The Alder building will be the location of a 1,700-square-foot neighborhood market. “We suspect it will (carry) a higher concentration of prepared to semi-prepared items, similar to Whole Foods and Trader Joes,” Lubin said. “Its good quality and it speaks to a students schedule.”

He said HFS has the goal of achieving gold LEED (leadership in energy and environmental design) certification for Poplar Hall, and silver LEED certification for the other three buildings.

All the buildings will have Wi-Fi access and all the bedrooms will have Ethernet ports. But how does a department plan for future technology needs? “You focus on the backbone, the quality of the pipeline,” said Lubin. The buildings will be wired “so that whate
ver students choose to plug in over the long run, the lines going to take it.”

Tammy Taecker, an HFS project specialist, offered underlying themes for the whole multi-building project: “For west campus, what were really trying to communicate to our students is that its independence with convenience, and its also community with privacy.”