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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Dorm erection set for November

    A fenced off area of a parking lot south of the Coronado Residence Hall, at the corner of Euclid and 6th Street, shows where construction will begin on one of two new residence halls coming to campus early next year.
    A fenced off area of a parking lot south of the Coronado Residence Hall, at the corner of Euclid and 6th Street, shows where construction will begin on one of two new residence halls coming to campus early next year.

    After receiving the final approval to start construction on two new residence halls off of Sixth Street, Residence Life is getting the last elements in line to begin construction of the first site in November.

    The new dorms together will house approximately 1,140 incoming freshman and cost a little over $159 million to construct.

    The new housing could not have come at a better time, said Jim Van Arsdel, director of Residence Life, as the influx of students to the UA only continues to grow.

    “”It is the kind of thing where one discussion leads to another, and then another leads to twenty more and at some point along the way, everyone agrees that it’s a good enough idea – it isn’t something that occurs overnight by any means,”” Van Arsdel said.

    Van Arsdel said Residence Life and Facilities Design and Construction worked together with other agencies to start the project two years ago. In June of last year, they received the Arizona Board of Regents’ approval to hire an architect.

    Currently, the team is in the design process and working on issuing bonds to finance the project, but all is set to begin construction in November. Construction on the second site is slated to begin in January.

    “”It will be a real exciting project,”” said Melissa Dryden, program coordinator for Facilities Design and Construction. “”It’s going to be a great facility for students.””

    Van Arsdel said the dorms are to be designed in a way that will support a relatively small living-learning community within the halls.

    “”We tried to design it so that pretty much every floor would have 33 students and one (residence assistant), and two of those groupings would share a study room,”” Van Arsdel said. “”The idea is that we form a smaller community within a larger community.””

    The first site is set to be built on the recently-closed parking lot that was behind Coronado Residence Hall.

    The new building will essentially be made of five different, smaller structures that will almost reach Coronado’s eight-floor height.

    The second hall will be located south of Apache-Santa Cruz Residence Hall and will be close to the same design, except that it will hold approximately 390 fewer residents.

    Van Arsdel compared the new building layouts to that of La Paz Residence Hall – which is an arrangement of several buildings linked together with various courtyards to create one residence hall.

    The new dorm creation comes at a time when the student population is changing, and the UA has worked hard at matching the changes of a growing freshman class, taking measures such as leasing contracts with off-campus apartments like SkyView and Corleone to turn them into student dorms. The UA, in some instances, also adds third roommates to double rooms at Arizona-Sonora Residence Hall.

    But Residence Life has often felt it was a step behind the hordes of incoming students, Van Arsdel said.

    “”First of all, we don’t have enough housing for students today, and we did not have enough last year,”” he said. “”The year before that, when we were finished, we hoped we had started to catch up with the demand for housing, but by the time we had built them (the newer dorms finished in 2004), the size of the freshman class already had grown.””

    Unfortunately, there have been cases where Residence Life has had to turn students over to off-campus housing because dorms have filled to capacity, Van Arsdel said.

    Mikel Shiya, a student representative for off-campus housing, said that although he is unable to keep track of all freshmen referred to him for alternative living arrangements, last summer saw more incoming students, which caused the need for more dorms.

    “”We typically fit all freshmen and sophomores. There may have always been problems, just not as large as when the president raised the admissions cap,”” Shiya said. “”There’s an extreme shortage in dorms. We’ve just had so many more students.””

    Noelle Al-Abdulrahim, a sophomore who works at Campus Crossings, previously University Heights, said their off-campus apartment complex has increasingly been part of a weighty effect.

    “”We’ve definitely seen an increase of freshmen, because it’s been harder for them to get into the dorms,”” she said. “”We do everything on a first come, first serve basis, but if it’s between a sophomore and a freshman getting a room, they will take a freshman over a sophomore.””

    Although there have been temporary solutions to some of the problems, there are students who inevitably lose out on desired housing, Van Arsdel said.

    Van Arsdel said this is the goal of the new dorm project, and a success at this game of catch-up is something that can only be determined in the future.

    “”It will take a little more than a year with construction, so we’ll have to see if we really get caught up by then,”” Van Arsdel said. “”But that’s what we’re hoping!””

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