West side dorm on track for 2015 completion


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The construction of a new student housing complex on the West Campus will continue to grow for the next few years — and officials say once the new dorm is completed, they can move on to other projects, possibly including building a new College of Pharmacy facility.

The dorm project is expected to be completed on May 30, 2015, and it is saying on budget.  

Student housing will be somewhat reduced during the 2014-15 school year, because of a recent UI decision not to renew its lease on Hawks Ridge. Von Stange, the UI director of University Housing and Dining, doesn’t expect this to be a problem.

“Some students will choose Hawks Ridge as off-campus housing,” Stange said. “Basically, there are enough empty beds in our current residence halls to accommodate the students from Hawks Ridge.”

Not only will the new residence hall house 501 students, it will include a student dining sports grill, which will allow students to use Hawkdollars, and also have a space to socialize for all West Side students, Stange said.

“We’ve devoted a lot of space to learning commons,” he said. “Not only for residents of that hall but for other West Side students as well.”

This is part of a plan to “modernize the residence-hall experience,” said Rod Lehnertz, the director of planning, design, and Construction for UI Facilities Management.

The new dorm is the first constructed since 1968, and its design is based on the UI’s living-learning community approach to residency. Each floor has 26-28 double rooms clustered around a study lounge. Students and RAs will be sorted to different floors based on their academic interests, hopefully fostering academic and social success.

Once the new dorm opens, UI spokesman Tom Moore said, the UI should be able to close and demolish the Quadrangle Residence Hall if the request to fund the demolition is approved.

The Quad is a poor use of land, Lehnertz said, and that is the primary reason for its demolition.

“The Quad is only 2 stories tall,” Lehnertz said. “The University of Iowa is a rapidly urbanizing campus, and land is becoming increasingly valuable. One of our goals is to build upward, not outward.”

Once the Quad is demolished, the land its on is reserved for two functions. The east side, nearest to the other residence halls, will be used for future residence halls. The west side, meanwhile, will be the site of a new College of Pharmacy tower.

The pharmacy school is housed in two connected buildings, one from 1997 and one from 1961.

“The older building is functionally and operationally obsolete,” Lehnertz said. “It has the highest energy use per square foot of any campus building, and the highest deferred maintenance costs of any campus building.”

To begin project planning to build the new pharmacy tower and upgrade the 1997 tower, UI has requested $70 million from the state, Moore said. Officials expect the funds to be approved during the spring legislative session.

“We are currently operating under the assumption that we will receive the necessary funds,” Lehnertz said. “So long as funding is secured, we’ll be on target to begin after the demolition of the Quadrangle.”

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