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Housing Development Plan unveiled

Plan will transform the South Green over 10 years

The Division of Student Affairs is set to unveil its Housing Development Plan to the University community over the next several weeks.

The development plan builds on the 2006 Campus Master Plan—which called for better pedestrian connections between the South and East Greens and the campus academic core, among other recommendations—and the 2012 Housing Master Plan Update, which addresses the deferred maintenance needs of the residential campus and encompassed demolition of the “back 15” South Green residence halls and Wolfe Street Apartments. Those halls currently house approximately 1,600 students.

The Division of Student Affairs will present details of the plan—particularly Phase I, which began this year—to various groups over the next few weeks, culminating in a presentation to the Board of Trustees at its Feb. 7 meeting in Chillicothe. The first of these presentations will be an open forum from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, in Baker University Center’s Atrium Lounge on the third floor.

The plan is the result of a collaborative effort led by Ohio University’s Division of Student Affairs, Facilities Planning, with the URS Corp. and Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas + Company. 

The Housing Development Plan encompasses two parallel planning efforts: the Sector Plan for South and East greens and the Program of Requirements for the South Green residential communities. The Sector Plan establishes a framework for building, site and infrastructure development beyond the residential sites. The Program of Requirements defines the space needs, community organization, and phasing implementation strategies for the new South Green neighborhoods.

The design team held a series of on-campus workshops with a working committee to gather information and receive input on the program and planning concepts. Additional input was gathered from other constituent groups, including students, faculty, administrators, facilities staff and planners from the City of Athens. The University’s departments of Campus Recreation, Transportation and Parking Services, Dining Services and Residential Housing also were deeply involved.

“Most importantly, our students have been involved during the entire planning process over the last 24 months of review and planning,” said Ryan Lombardi, vice president for Student Affairs. “They have helped guide our decisions to develop a modern, 21st-century design to meet their needs and those of future students.”

The 10-year Housing Development Plan—funded by Residential Housing through housing funds and bonds—is divided into three phases:

  • Phase 1, which began this year, includes building four new residence halls on the former site of Wolfe Street Apartments and adjacent lots. Those buildings, with a total of about 900 beds, are expected to open in fall 2015. Each building will accommodate approximately 225 students arranged in floor section communities of about 32 students each. It also will replace three existing parking lots, with a total of approximately 400 spaces, with new lots to be built on the current site of the intramural fields east of the Front Four and next to McKinley Avenue, as well as an expanded lot east of the Ping Recreation Center. The new lots will replace the lost spaces on a 1:1 ratio.
  • Phase 2, which includes construction of an additional four new residence halls totaling approximately 640 beds adjacent to the Front Four residence halls on South Green. Their design will create new residential courtyard spaces between the new halls and the Front Four. This phase also removes sections of the patio and parking structures between the Front Four buildings to allow pedestrian paths to connect the courtyards to newly expanded recreation fields behind South Green along the Hocking River.
  • Phase 3 includes construction of two more residence halls totaling approximately 520 beds on the site of the current Morton Hall parking lot and east of Adams Hall.

“This development plan transforms the entire residential program and supports the future living-learning centered planning,” said Pete Trentacoste, executive director of Residential Housing. “The new residence halls will replace the back 15 residence halls and provide for more desirable and marketable housing accommodations, with a focus on recruitment and retention of students.”

The development plan also includes a “Sweep Concept” that envisions pedestrian and vehicular networks extending throughout the campus. The Sweep follows the topography and historic railroad bed, creating a series of campus spaces that allow for ease of pedestrian circulation from South Green to the campus core. Key locations along the Sweep include Baker Center and academic buildings to the west, south of the Ping Center, and Nelson Commons and east of the South Beach. On the South Green, the Sweep also incorporates pedestrian connections into campus spaces behind the Front Four and out to the southern edge of Lot 79.

“The Sweep creates a connection to the campus core, providing a view of the river and future recreation fields, and expands the South Beach along the new Phase I residential complex,” said Christine Sheets, assistant vice president for Capital and Facilities Planning for Student Affairs.

In addition to meeting residential and transportation needs, the development plan supports the University’s academic mission, Lombardi said.

“This housing development plan meets a number of key principles, the most important being that it provides many opportunities for academic support and collaboration for our living-learning communities,” Lombardi said. “This is accomplished through a variety of programming spaces, classrooms, shared offices with faculty and student services, a learning commons, and faculty apartments.”