Construction for the new residence hall that will replace Hamilton Hall will begin on the large green space west of Justice Bean Hall in late November.
The new hall marks the first phase of the university’s plan of revitalizing student housing to both prepare for a growing student population and drive and support growing enrollment numbers, said Dr. Roger Thompson, the vice president for student services and enrollment management.
“We're also experiencing, even though the demographics are shrinking, tremendous growth in our freshman class,” Thompson said. “We've never had interest as high in the University of Oregon as we have now.”
Though some site preparation will begin in November, things that “look more like construction,” like putting up fencing, moving in heavy machinery and preparing the hall’s foundation, will begin sometime in December, said Michael Griffel, the director of University Housing.
The new 700-bed residence hall that will replace Hamilton will have seven floors, new dining venues, a center for visitors and prospective students and an apartment for faculty living in the hall. The university is also considering adding “retail space” to its ground floor, according to documents from the Sept. 6 board of trustees meeting.
This plan, which has been dubbed the “Housing Transformation Project,” involves replacing Hamilton and Walton (as well as the green space dubbed as “Humpy Lumpy Lawn”) with three new residence halls.
As for Humpy Lumpy Lawn, Griffel says, the university plans to construct a large permanent green space where Hamilton currently sits as a replacement for the student-beloved landmark.
“The design is still pretty early, but it will have some humps and lumps,” Griffel said of the new green space.
Together, Hamilton and Walton have 1,400 beds. The three new dorms will have over 1,800 beds.
More recently constructed dorms like the Living-Learning Center, Global Scholars Hall and Kalapuya Ilihi are among the university’s most requested, Thompson said, because of higher demand for residence halls that have more than just “cinderblocks.”
Amenities like fresher, healthier food with gluten-free and vegetarian options, Wi-Fi and computers are just some of the services students in the 21st century are asking for, he said.
The university has scheduled to finish building the residence hall replacing Hamilton by early August 2021, Griffel said, when it plans for construction of the two halls replacing Walton to begin. Hamilton, after housing its last round of students in the 2022-23 school year, will be be demolished in summer 2023.
Buildings in both dorms date back to the late 1950s and early 1960s.
The UO board of trustees — which approves any capital project costing more than $5 million — unanimously voted to fund the project’s first phase with its requested $101 million at its Sept. 6 meeting.
“This is a key investment in the University of Oregon,” Thompson said of the project at the meeting.
If the first phase of the project turns out to need more than its anticipated cost of about $101 million, the board would need to approve any additional funding. The university expects the overall project to cost somewhere between $218 and $225 million.
The project is being funded largely by a loan from the UO’s internal bank, which will pay for the residential and dining portions of the residence hall. The university expects the loan not to exceed $83 million, according to documents from the Sept. 6 trustees meeting.
Another $10 million will come from a mix of fundraising, sponsorships and an additional loan for the recruitment and visitors center, and the last $8 million will come from University Housing funds, which include room and board fees from students.