LAWRENCE — Action taken by the Kansas Board of Regents earlier this month advances a University of Kansas plan for only its second new residence hall construction project since 1966. The board approved preliminary plans for KU Student Housing to build a 500-bed residence hall and dining center near the south entrance to campus near 19th Street and Naismith Drive.
“KU is heavily investing in attracting more and more high-achieving students, students drawn to our campus community and environment, and the undergraduate opportunities available at a major public research university,” said Diana Robertson, director of Student Housing. “The result has been three straight years of growth in our freshman class and an increase in KU's overall enrollment. When we also consider this year’s record class of international students and KU’s plans to continue growing international enrollment, it is evident a new housing facility is needed.”
The new hall is necessary to expand the capacity of Student Housing to handle anticipated enrollment increases across the system and diversify the options for all new or current KU students interested on-campus housing. Design work will likely begin in 2015, and plans call for construction to be completed by July 2017. The hall will follow the model used for new buildings currently under construction on Daisy Hill, including 21st century housing designs and academic support components.
The new residential dining center will connect the new residence hall to the existing Oliver Residence Hall, which was opened in 1966. The current Oliver dining center will be remodeled to serve as an academic services area for both halls. Robertson said the project is an exciting addition to KU’s central district.
“Strategically growing our capacity allows Student Housing to provide more options both to first-year students and to upperclass and graduate students, greatly enhancing the campus community. This project blends in well with plans to upgrade KU’s central district, including Innovation Way," she said.
In addition to the new residence hall near Oliver, other KU Student Housing projects:
- A pair of new residence halls dedicated to first-year students are under construction at 15th and Iowa. They will open for incoming freshmen in August 2015 and replace McCollum Hall.
- McCarthy Hall apartments are being built near Allen Fieldhouse at 1747 Naismith Drive. Marie S. McCarthy Hall will be a three-story building located south of Hoglund Ballpark and will house 38 students in two-bedroom/two-bath and four-bedroom/two-bath apartments.
- The KU Master Plan calls for construction of a new apartment complex for single upperclass and graduate students at 19th and Iowa streets, where part of Stouffer Place now stands. The proposed timeline is for construction to be completed in the late spring of 2017.
- Extensive renovations to current buildings, including Grace Pearson and Douthart scholarship halls this summer.
- A restoration of Corbin Residence Hall is in the planning stages.
Currently, Student Housing is home to about 5,100 students in 62 buildings across nearly 100 acres of the KU campus. The department also offers leadership opportunities, community involvement and a trained and supportive staff.