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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI unveils $120 million in projects to enhance campus life

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

New dining hall, residence halls, 1,480 more parking spaces in the works

KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 12, 2005 -- University of Rhode Island officials today unveiled projects totaling more than $120 million to build a new dining hall, new suite- and apartment-style undergraduate housing and 1,483 new parking spaces for students.

Officials launched the projects at a celebration of the last days of Hope Dining Hall, which will close Friday, May 13. The projects will be completed in the fall of 2006.

“Hope Dining Hall has been the essence of community at URI—small groups of students gathered to eat together in an environment that evokes the best of the classic old diners,” said URI President Robert L. Carothers. “In this place of nostalgia for many of our alumni, we embark on several projects that will combine the best elements of Hope with facilities that will serve a vital, growing campus.”

“When the University adds its new suite- and apartment-style housing, dining hall and parking facilities, the Kingston Campus landscape will change in dramatic ways. With these projects we will be creating a stronger and better community for URI students,” said Robert Weygand, vice president for administration.

The 800-bed, $68 million housing project is the largest construction effort in University history and is the first new undergraduate housing construction since 1970. Financing for the new residence hall project is coming exclusively from revenue bonds.

Chip Yensan, director of Housing and Residential Life, said the new housing construction "represents URI’s most ambitious pursuit of a more independent, on-campus living option for its students."

There will be two apartment-style buildings to the north and west of Heathman Hall, and they will contain about 450 beds. These units will have five bedrooms with a common living room and full kitchen. For students living there, meal plans would be optional.

The suite-style building containing about 350 beds will be built behind Browning Hall. S/L/A/M Collaborative of Glastonbury, Conn., is the new housing project architect.

Officials also outlined renovation work to be done on existing residence halls. Those called the Little Four --Hutchinson, Peck, Merrow and Tucker--and three others, Heathman, Gorham and Fayerweather, will be completed in the 2007-2008 academic year at an estimated cost of $27 million. The majority of the funding is coming from $24 million in general obligation bonds approved by voters.

Dining Developments

The new dining hall will replace Hope, the oldest and smallest of the three dining halls. Built in 1957 and expanded in 1960, it has been a student favorite for its “Hope Burgers,” pizza, chicken wings, onion rings and ice cream. When completed, it will be the first new dining hall at URI in 45 years.

The 42,229-square-foot dining hall that will replace Hope and the Roger Williams Dining Hall will feature the latest in the college dining experience with food stations each with their own themes and culinary offerings. Hope is 10,600 square feet, while Roger Williams is 17,500 square feet.

While the new dining hall is being built, Roger Williams will remain in operation, but will eventually be converted to a student activity center. Butterfield Dining Hall, which is part of the Freshman Village, will continue normal operations.

Financing for the new $22 million dining hall will come from $13.8 million revenue bonds and $8.3 million from fund balances from the Dining Services operation.

The new facility will be a two-story, air-conditioned structure with red brick, masonry and large walls of glass windows. A convenience store, delivery operations and storage will be housed on the first floor and the main dining area will be housed on the second floor. The new facility will have 718 seats, compared to the current combined total of 615 in Hope and Roger Williams.

The second-floor dining area will provide full meal service until 9:30 p.m. A café with 115 seats will be a central element of the building and will be open until 2 a.m. each day. Starbucks products will be featured, along with pizza, smoothies, ice cream, and calzones. The café will be equipped with full wireless internet access and plasma televisions. It will have a fireplace and pastry showcase.

In a food station layout, there will be a retro-looking burger and fast-food area and a salad, pasta and wok station where foods can be cooked to order, a deli and a Euro kitchen.

“We have designed this so that when trends change, we will be able to change with them,” said Kathleen Gianquitti, director of dining services.

The new dining center will also have a private dining room with 50 seats that opens to a patio. There will be hookups for gas grills.

To accommodate the new apartment-style residential units, which will have kitchens, the convenience store will offer cold cuts, fresh produce, kosher and vegan foods, pasta and other easy-to-prepare foods.

The lead architectural firm on the new dining hall and residence hall renovation project is Vision 3 Architects of Providence, with DuBose Associates Architects of Hartford, working with Vision 3 on the residence hall renovation project. Gilbane Building Co. of Providence is the program manager of the new residence halls project and the renovations to the existing residence halls.

Peck and Merrow will undergo higher-level upgrades that include elevator installation and a new look that will complement the new dining services building. All the Little Four will undergo full fire code, safety and disability compliance upgrades. Extensive landscaping and security upgrades will also be done in the area.

Parking Improvements

The other major component of the enhancements is the construction of new parking lots at a total cost of $3 million. Financing for the parking enhancements is also coming from revenue bonds. The University will build 833 additional spaces at Plains Road in an L-shape to fit with the 800 spaces already at the site, which is diagonally across from the Ryan Center. Like the first 800 spaces, the addition will feature a porous pavement and subsurface drainage and filter system to protect the aquifer.

Another 650 spaces will be built off of Flagg Road at the corner of Plains Road. Parking designations will also change to better match student usage, with the Dairy Barn lot becoming resident parking and the lot at the Fine Arts Center reverting to its former status as a commuter lot.