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University Housing used virtual reality technology and 3-D models of the floorplans for students to experience what the rooms are projected to look like in order to receive feedback. (Hannah Kanik/Emerald)

The proposed $200 million remodel of Hamilton and Walton residence halls reached a new phase of the design process as University of Oregon Housing invited students to walk through proposed floor plans and give feedback in the Global Scholars Hall library on March 13.

This remodel, also known as the Housing Transformation Project, plans to tear down the current buildings and replace them with a new building that reaches six stories in certain areas and includes 400 additional beds for upperclassmen students, new dining options and a student recruitment visitor center.

“We’ve been calling it the ‘transformation plan,’ and sometimes that sounds really grandiose, but it really is going to change this region of campus and be very appealing to students,” Michael Griffel, director for university housing, said.

University Housing used virtual reality technology and 3-D models of the floorplans for students to experience what the rooms are projected to look like in order to give feedback.

“[The VR technology] was definitely helpful to get a better sense of the layout of the rooms,” said Owen Jetton, a sophomore who lived in both Carson and Riley halls.

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University Housing used virtual reality technology and 3-D models of the floorplans for students to experience what the rooms are projected to look like in order to receive feedback. (Hannah Kanik/Emerald)

The proposed room types include a studio and a four-bedroom apartment for upper division students and a reconfigured double room with a private bathroom for first-year students.

“The rooms will be a little bit larger than some of the older rooms, and there will be more privacy with bathrooms,” Griffel said. “There will be good study spaces, good social spaces and the bedrooms will really feel like your own haven.”

At the event Wednesday, students walked through the to-scale models of the floorplans marked by tape on the floor and filled with furniture.

Griffel said the new room designs are the product of student feedback from focus groups and a similar event held last month in Walton Hall. These designs will be modified after they receive feedback from students.

For example, Griffel said upperclassmen mentioned that they wanted to have a place they could live on campus with more privacy. Growing the number of beds from 1,400 to 1,800 allowed designers to allocate space for upperclassmen student housing.

“We wanted to create places where upper division students felt like they’d be welcome. What we hear from students is that they want more independence as they move through their academic cycles,” Griffel said.  

Maggie Thompson, a junior who lived in GSH and Barnhart Hall, said she appreciated the upperclassmen housing plans.

“For me, as a junior, [upperclassmen housing] is a little bit more attractive than having a single in Barnhart that’s off campus, or a double in GSH that has a roommate, because when you get to be an upperclassman, it’s nicer to have your own space,” Thompson said.

The housing transformation plan will also be allocating space for Academic Residential Communities and Living Learning spaces seen in GSH, Kalapuya and Bean Hall renovations.

At the event, students were able to speak with the architects creating the floor plans and give direct feedback.

Students could also vote on their preferred “vibe” of community spaces, such as more independent space versus more communal tables in dining halls, Griffel said.

Funding for the project is expected to come from revenue bonds which the university will pay off through the housing fees of future students.

Steve Robinson, UO Housing assistant vice president and chief of staff, said other universities the UO competes with to recruit students have built new housing, such as University of Southern California’s Trojan Village and University of Washington’s Maple and Terry halls.

“There’s lots of things that go into a college student’s decision to enroll,” Robinson said, “but making sure that we have great facilities certainly helps. We don’t want someone to come here and be wowed by all the great things about the UO but less wowed by the residence halls.”

After the event, the University Housing team and architects will consolidate the feedback and start working on the final design to present to the board of trustees sometime this year.

“[The new buildings] will really feel very contemporary. It’s a really nice blend of taking care of personal needs and supporting students academic needs, social needs and personal needs in a really exciting and attractive environment,” Griffel said.


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