URI celebrates completion of four residence hall renovation projects
Barbecue, ribbon cutting mark major progress on Freshman Village
KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 7, 2002 -- The University of Rhode Island celebrated the completion of major renovation work on four residence halls today with a block party and barbecue on the grounds of what will become the Freshman Village.
URI President Robert L. Carothers, administrators from the offices of Strategic Planning and Institutional Research, Student Life, Housing and Residential Life and Dining Services, joined resident students in a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the ongoing success of the $64 million project. In addition, officials highlighted major improvements to the food preparation area at Butterfield Dining Hall.
The food preparation improvements, which include the kitchen, dish room and storage facilities, were the culmination of a three-year plan to make Butterfield a state-of-the art food service facility. Funds for the Butterfiled work came entirely from operating and fund balance dollars.
The residence hall project started in 1999 with Barlow Hall, a 228-bed facility completed for the start of classes in September 2000. The striking entry tower, study lounges, completely redone bedrooms and bathrooms and state-of-the-art safety and security equipment won high praise from students and staff.
Workers then transformed Weldin Hall, which reopened in January 2001, into a mirror image of Barlow. Bressler and Butterfield halls, which were built in the 1950s and are the Universitys oldest residence halls, were next on the upgrade schedule. Bressler reopened in the fall of 2001 and Butterfield reopened in January 2002. All of the projects have been completed on time and within budget.
Barlow was the first of the six that will create the Freshman Village, a place where first-year students will live in a community defined by distinct neighborhoods, shared programs, and a focus on the first-year experience at URI.
In brief remarks before a ceremonial ribbon cutting, Carothers said the project is a credit to the hard work of administrators from the Office of Capital Projects and Housing and Residential Life and the support of taxpayers and state government officials.
"We see here today the results of people coming together to build a University that serves our students in the new millenium," Carothers said. "The students tell us that these residence halls are bright, comfortable and functional homes away from home, with high quality access to technology and a safe and secure environment. All of us gathered here today can be very proud of what has been accomplished and we look forward to the next phase of the important project."
Chip Yensan, URI director of Housing and Residential Life, said the projects truly reflect the theme of "making something old new again."
"What were hearing from parents and students is satisfaction with the modernized living facilities and that our designs and concepts that we built into these renovations are on target," Yensan said. "Many of those ideas came from meetings we held with students early in the process. The whole area looks and feels different, and we are finding that students are taking great pride in the buildings."
The University's self-supporting Department of Housing and Residential Life funded the initial stage of the Freshman Village project with $22 million, including $20 million from a 30-year Rhode Island Health and Education Building Corporation (RIHEBC) bond issued in October 1999 and $2 million from other sources of capital. In the fall of 2000, taxpayers approved $22 million in general obligation bonds to continue the work, and the remaining $20 million is coming from the Rhode Island Capital Fund.
The work on the four residence halls has also included extensive landscaping, including stonewalls, new walkways, recreation areas and enhanced lighting.
Bressler and Butterfield each have new entries, totally renovated rooms, hallways, and spruced up community spaces. They are also equipped with sprinklers, and fire alarm systems. Butterfield has a new elevator, making it fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The next phase of the Freshman Village project is Browning Hall, which will be taken out of service in June, and will be reopened in August of 2003. It will take longer than the others because it has an extra wing and 75 more beds.
When the sixth building of the Freshman Village, Adams Hall, is completed, Yensan said attention will shift to the suite-style residence halls.
For Information: Chip Yensan 401-874-5371, Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116