BOZEMAN – When it opens in the fall of 2016, Montana State University’s new, Y-shaped residence hall will house 400 freshmen, helping to accommodate MSU’s growth in enrollment while offering new students a home away from home.
“We really want this to be a place where students feel comfortable, a place where the emphasis is on getting to know your neighbors,” said Tammie Brown, chief housing officer with MSU’s Office of Residence Life. “To that end, we’ve involved student input on key design questions, from the color of interior walls to the size of the rooms to the feel and function of the common spaces.”
To foster that kind of close-knit community, the modern four-story building will be laid out with smaller wings of about 40 students each, with a study lounge and an active lounge that will serve as group gathering places. With a fireplace and lots of natural light from soaring windows, the building’s lobby will also feature cozy and comfortable places to socialize and relax, Brown said.
Construction crews broke ground this summer on the access road and parking for the project. A ceremonial ground breaking event for the new building is scheduled for Thursday at 4 p.m., in the northeast corner of the Dobbie Lambert Intramural Fields.
The new, $35 million residence hall will ultimately be paid for entirely by student housing fees. No student tuition or state tax dollars will be used.
The building will be the university’s first new freshmen residence hall to open since North Hedges was completed in the late 1960s, said Tom Stump, director of MSU Auxiliary Services.
With a target of a LEED Silver designation for environmentally friendly design, the building will embody MSU’s commitment to sustainability, said Andy Allen, MSU’s project manager for the new residence hall. Like Gallatin Hall, a residence hall for upperclassmen that opened in the fall of 2013, the new residence hall will incorporate a number of technologies to lower building costs for energy and maintenance such as passively harnessing the sun and installing LED light bulbs, using polypropylene water and heating lines instead of copper and incorporating wood harvested from beetle-killed timber stands as accent material.
An alternative delivery system for contracting the work, which is allowed under Montana statute, has helped ensure that the general contractor communicates with the architects throughout the process, Allen added. Because the budgets for each phase of the project are so carefully calibrated, and because the contractor’s profits are a strict percentage of the overall cost, the end result is a $35 million project that will come in nearly spot on its budget, Allen said.
In addition, as the building costs take shape, Allen said the project team can begin to bring some valuable options back into the design.
Chris Piehl, a senior in mechanical engineering from Renton, Wash., said it has been very satisfying to represent the student viewpoint on the student advisory group for the project.
“It was cool to see how the project progressed from the designing of a building footprint right down to how all the details were going to come together to affect the student experience,” said Piehl, who worked in MSU residence halls as a resident assistant and as the summer resident director. “They have been very careful about how they factored in what the students wanted and balanced those against other considerations like cost or feasibility. As an engineering student it was neat to see that process unfold in real life.”
Contact: Tammie Brown, (406) 994-2661, firstname.lastname@example.org.