A major housing project is scheduled to begin mid-May with the demolition of the Huesman and Sullivan residence halls. Construction is projected to last until the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester, but the effects of the construction can already be seen in the closure of Hannon Field on April 2 and the expected loss of Deja View movie theater.
The plan is for the new dorms to be finished and ready for the class of 2024 to move into for the fall 2020 semester. The dorms will add 440 more beds than what is currently available in Huesman and Sullivan, with 320 beds for freshmen and nearly 300 beds for sophomore, junior and senior students, as previously reported by the Loyolan. The process of finding an architect and contractor began in the spring of 2018 and ended with the hiring of architectural firm Steinberg Hart to design and contractor firm Bernards to build, according to Steve Nygaard, director of student housing.
"The goal of adding more than 440 beds on campus is to allow more students to take advantage of the opportunity to live in on-campus housing," Nygaard said.
According to a non-scientific study of over 100 students conducted by the Loyolan, almost 50 percent of respondents believe that LMU does "not at all" provide enough housing for students.
The two new buildings will have both A/C and heating systems and will contain three styles of housing. The building on the north side of East Quad, replacing Huesman, will be a typical residence style building—which includes common bathrooms and mostly double rooms—and will be mostly for freshmen.
The building on the south side, replacing Sullivan, will contain two types of housing: traditional apartment style similar to current on-campus apartments and a new kind of “co-living pod style," according to Patten. Pod-style living involves approximately 18-19 students living in interconnected rooms. Each room is either a single or a double that will open to a shared kitchen and living room area. The kitchen will be equipped with two refrigerators, two stoves, two microwaves and other appliances. There will also be common bathrooms, but only the sinks will be shared. A single shower and toilet will be in separate, private stalls.
“I think the exciting thing is having this new complex ... that brings everyone together, bridging freshmen all the way to seniors, and creates this community kind of in the heart of campus,” said Kim Patten, the principal and director of student life at Steinberg Hart.
In addition to housing, the buildings will have study rooms, lounges and larger multipurpose rooms for events and even an area for outdoor movies. In terms of the exterior, Patten said they will draw inspiration from the traditional architecture on campus, such as the “white stucco and very clean lines that the campus has and is known for" while modernizing it.
The outside courtyard will also be remodeled with additional greenery and seating. The plan is to rearrange the north side of the courtyard as an interactive, purposeful area for freshmen while keeping the south side more private for upperclassmen.
In addition to outside greenery, there will be an emphasis on sustainability during the construction of the dorms. The community garden located behind Sullivan will be redesigned and moved to the west corner of Hannon parking lot, near Tenderich, according to Nygaard. The garden will reopen in fall 2019.
The project is also being submitted for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification. LEED is an outside inspection of a building’s “green features," such as construction, operations, maintenance and waste, according to their website. LMU sold about $90 million in “green bonds”—which are used to finance environmentally-friendly or sustainable projects—to pay for the new dorms, according to LMU Newsroom.
However, there is concern over noise pollution and the effect construction will have on campus. The same Loyolan study found that over 70 percent of students believe the construction will be disruptive, with some mentioning apprehension about noise, dust, parking and the environment in general.
“Coming from a high school that underwent a lot of construction while I was there, it was sometimes hard to understand that the construction would be beneficial in the long run, because it just seems like a burden at the moment,” said Gabrielle Inamine, an undeclared freshman in the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts.
Overall, Inamine said she is excited for the new dorms, which is a sentiment shared by other freshmen. The construction schedule is not yet solidified for the coming year, but a 12-foot sound-reducing barrier will be placed around the construction site to dampen sound created by demolition and construction.
“The new East Quad won’t be a problem as long as housing costs go down to a reasonable amount for five people to the apartments next year,” said Declan Tomlinson, a freshman international relations and economics double major.
Costs for the new East Quad housing are not yet available, but the housing costs for the 2019-2020 school year have risen an average of 3 percent, according to Patrick Hogan, the associate vice president for financial planning and budget. This is not uncommon, as housing costs rise annually. Rates for students in overflow housing will be discounted 20 percent. The Loyolan study found that (over 60 percent) of students rated LMU an average of 2 on reasonableness of price, on a scale of 1 (unreasonable) to five (very reasonable).
The initial cost of the dorms is covered by the previously mentioned green bonds, and student housing fee revenue is expected to support the new dorms’ operating expenses, according to Hogan. However, the number of people per apartment will rise. The loss of two residence halls during a time of rising University attendance means five people living in all two bedroom apartments on campus, except Tenderich, according to Nygaard.
“Changing the majority of the apartments from four to five is also something that will affect lots of people, and from what I’ve heard from people in the Leavey and Hannon [apartments], five people will be a really tight fit,” Guthrie Theodore, a freshman film and television production major, said.
Freshman dorm halls will remain as designed, with a majority of double rooms. Rains Hall, previously reserved for sophomores, is now included in the list of residence halls available to first-year students, according to the housing website.
"Housing is stuck between kicking off upperclassmen who might have wanted to stay on campus another year or two or trying to jump the gun and build now," Michael Cazarez, a junior mechanical engineering major, said. "They have to do it sometime and they can't start until current people leave."
While the University has upgraded aspects of other dorm halls in previous years—such as fans, new flooring or water refill stations—the University has no plans for construction or renovation in other residence halls, according to Nygaard.
“I’ve really enjoyed the housing experience this year ... and I feel like the dorms have been a great experience to socialize through,” said Andrew Bruneel, a freshman physics major. “Honestly, having five people to an apartment isn't that bad and will be a lot of fun.”