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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI takes major first steps toward building 800-bed housing complexes for upperclassmen

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 29, 2004 -- With S/L/A/M Collaborative on board as the architect and Gilbane Building Co. handling project management, the University of Rhode Island is initiating its first undergraduate housing construction project since 1970.

Chip Yensan, director of URI's Department of Housing and Residential Life, announced the hirings late last week.

He invited members of the campus to an open session on Friday, April 30 to share their thoughts and ideas with S/L/A/M of Glastonbury, Conn., Gilbane, which is headquartered in Providence, and officials from URI's Department of Housing and Residential Life and Office of Capital Projects. The session will run from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union, Atrium II.

In a memo Yensan said the $66.6 million project, the largest construction project in URIís history, "represents URIís most ambitious pursuit of a more independent on-campus living option for its students."

Yensan said the project offers two kinds of housing, each of which should appeal to sophomores, juniors and seniors. Suite-style units containing 250 to 300 beds will be built near Adams and Browning residence halls. The bedrooms will branch off of a common living room. Additional apartment-style units housing 500 to 550 beds are planned in the northern district of the campus. These units will have four bedrooms with a common living room and full kitchen. Meal plans would be optional. Plans for the new apartment village also include a sandwich shop, corner store, laundry/dry cleaning services and specialized programming space.

Construction is expected to start next spring, with completion to occur in phases over two years. While the new project is getting started, renovations to four existing residence halls known as the little four -- Peck, Merrow, Tucker, and Hutchinson -- will be under way.

"A new and exciting source of campus vitality, spirit, and Rhody Pride is on the way," Yensan said. "The student housing project coordination team is committed to delivering outstanding new residences that are recognized as centers for quality student living and learning for years to come.

"Our apartment offerings are very limited on campus, and this project will enable us to offer a whole new option to our upperclassmen. I think demand is going to be great."

Last September, URI celebrated completion of renovations to Browning Hall. The Browning project concluded the first phase of a program to overhaul all of the undergraduate living spaces on URI's Kingston Campus.

In the late 1990s, URI hired Biddison Hier Ltd., a management consultant to higher education, to examine its housing facilities and programs. The consultant recommended that URI renovate what was worth renovating and target that for freshmen housing, tear down and replace housing facilities that couldn't be renovated in a cost-effective manner and build new housing for upperclassmen.

"We have met one objective already, and are getting started on the second," Yensan said. "So clearly, we have a plan and we have been following it successfully."