Housing, a long-awaited update

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Housing, a long-awaited update

Dorm Life: Greis is on track to be refurbished along with the new building being erected.
Emma Kelley / Staff Photographer

Dorm Life: Greis is on track to be refurbished along with the new building being erected. Emma Kelley / Staff Photographer

Dorm Life: Greis is on track to be refurbished along with the new building being erected. Emma Kelley / Staff Photographer

Dorm Life: Greis is on track to be refurbished along with the new building being erected. Emma Kelley / Staff Photographer

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Campus Housing Plans: Conceptual photos of the potential new housing projects at South Fusz and South GriesCampus Housing Plans: Conceptual photos of the potential new housing projects at South Fusz and South Gries Courtesy of Housing and Residence Administration

Campus Housing Plans: Conceptual photos of the potential new housing projects at South Fusz and South Gries
Courtesy of Housing and Residence Administration

SLU implements plan for new housing options

With thousands of students providing input, years of preparation, and hundreds of hours of planning, the Department of Housing and Residence Life, along with the Division of Student Development, has officially announced that SLU’s campus is getting a face-lift. Recently, there has been talk, but the department has now officially solidified plans for one of the largest renovation projects this campus has ever seen.

Over the past academic year, much of SLU’s student population was surveyed regarding the current on-campus living situation. Melinda Carlson, the Director for Housing and Residence Life for Student Development, says, “…whether it be traditional residence halls or apartments, students want to live on campus.” The pressing need has been apparent for years, and Carlson continues to say that “students would rather have us be their landlord than the off-campus apartments,” and after collecting a survey from almost 2,600 students, there was a definitive consensus that both new developments and more housing space in current buildings needed to be added to SLU’s campus.

Attributing some of the decision making to focus groups, surveys and the student and faculty forums held on campus, Student Development has made sure that it grasps a solid understanding of what the general student body wants in a new dorm. Jay Bryant, a junior here at SLU, has attended many of the forums on campus condoned and applauded much of the process that the department went through. “Last year, there was a lot of talk about when or if we could actually see ground broken for a residence hall in the near future,” Bryant explained. “The fact that SLU will break ground for Phase I next semester is so exciting!  I am impressed with how quickly Student Development and their partners have come together to make plans that will take effect in the spring.” He and several other students have participated in open discussion about much of the input that will go into making the new Fusz and Griesedieck sites attractive to the student body, as well as the administration. “There are no shortcuts when it comes to building a residence hall, and I appreciate that the University acknowledges that there is a great need for better housing,” Bryant says.

In light of these recent polls, the entire team of Student Housing Development has started to set a plan into motion, which it calls Phase I. Divided into two sub-parts, Phase I consists of a variety of brand-new housing for students on campus, the first being a brand new dorm complex at the corner of Spring Street and Laclede Avenue. When completed, the complex will effectively replace the larger open space east of Beracha Hall and south of Fusz Hall, and it will house approximately 450 students over eight floors of single and double semi-suites. The lobby and first floor will act as a residential-academic hybrid facility. On the north side, residential rooms and laundry facilities will be available to students living in the dorm, while the lobby area on the first floor of the building will consist of mostly common space, surrounded by glass walls, for students to use at their leisure. The entire first floor of the building that runs along Laclede Avenue will have classrooms, a chapel and a large multipurpose room at its east end.

As well as the site on South Fusz, Griesedieck Hall is also getting a brand new addition to replace the parking lot behind it. Carlson has said that there will more than likely be two wings for the South Griesedieck site, a four-floor wing running along Laclede Avenue and an eight-floor wing, perpendicular and connected to the rest of the Griesedieck complex. The new addition will be connected via a large, main first floor that is made up of a brand new common space, as well as a new and larger dining hall. A new elevator system will also be added along the southwest side of Griesedieck tower. The entire new addition is going to add an additional 450 rooms, totaling 900 more beds for students.

With the help of Brailsford & Dunlavey, a project management firm based in Washington D.C., and KWK Architects, the entire development of the new South Fusz project will have the go-ahead to start breaking ground as early as 2015, followed shortly by the South Griesedieck addition. McCarthy Building Companies will construct both complexes under the strategic planning of Hastings+Chivetta, an architectural and engineering company responsible for the oversight of most of the project. According to Dr. Jill Carnaghi, Interim Assistant Vice President for the Division of Student Development, the department’s and associates’ “…whole focus has been on these two sites.” Carnaghi has been involved in planning renovations and construction projects on other college campuses but says that this project in particular is faster than any she has previously seen.

Two additional phases are expected to commence shortly after the completion of the South Griesedieck site. Phase II will cover a major renovation of both Reinert Hall and Fusz Hall. Carlson briefly mentioned a third phase, where the Grand Forest apartment complex will be completely renovated, and two new buildings, one dormitory style and the other an apartment-style building that “looks kind of like Hogwarts.” These plans still need to be more solidified, however, and will take some time, as the main focus for the departments and the University has been constructing the plans laid out in Phase I. Actual renovation of Reinert, Fusz and Grand Forest will not begin until 2019, after the new sites near Fusz and Griesedieck are finished.

Dorm Life: Greis is on track to be refurbished along with the new building being erected. Emma Kelley / Staff Photographer

Dorm Life: Greis is on track to be refurbished along with the new building being erected.
Emma Kelley / Staff Photographer