Demolition begins on URI’s Terrace Apartments to make way for energy-efficient housing complex

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KINGSTON, R.I. – October 28, 2010 – An excavator with a dinosaur-like jaw tore into one of the units of the Terrace Apartments Wednesday morning at the University of Rhode Island, as demolition began to make way for a 429-bed residence hall.

Workers with AA Wrecking Co. of Johnston, began demolition of the four-building, 54 -bed Terrace Apartments on Baird Hill Road, south and west of the Memorial Union.

The $42 million Hillside Hall will replace the 65-year-old Terrace Apartments. No taxpayer funds will be used to fund the new housing complex. Revenue bonds, which are paid off by students who use University living facilities, will finance the project. Hillside Hall will be the most energy efficient residence on campus.

“This represents another major step in the University’s efforts to modernize and expand its on-campus housing,” said Chip Yensan, assistant vice president for Student Affairs and director of Housing and Residential Life. “Three years ago, we opened three new residences to address the needs of upperclassmen, and now we are embarking on a new facility that will enhance the “freshman and sophomore experience”. The goal in all of these projects is to create a more vital campus community through the development of energetic and connected neighborhoods.”

“The aging Terrace Apartments would have required major repairs, including major fire code upgrades,” said Robert A. Weygand, vice president for administration and finance. “Such a process would not be cost effective, nor would it address the need for many more on-campus residential units.”

Hillside Hall will occupy less land than the current structures, and will contribute to URI’s sustainability efforts. The University will seek LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

“This new residence hall represents a substantial step in our continuing efforts to become a more sustainable community,” Weygand said. “The building will have features that weren’t included in our newest residence halls opened in 2007. As with other projects, we will use recycled materials in the construction,” Weygand said.

Hillside Hall’s design calls for an efficient heating and ventilation system, and rooftop solar collectors that will provide up to 30 percent of its hot water needs. Naturally ventilated spaces, heat recovery equipment, indoor bicycle storage and energy monitors in the main lobby are among the features of the new building.

In addition to its residential units, Hillside Hall will house new offices for the Department of Housing and Residential Life. The housing office will move from its current home, the former Roger Williams complex, which is slated to become a student wellness center.

Hillside Hall will repeat the geometry and use many of the materials of neighboring halls, yet will reflect more modern and innovative environmental technologies.

Residents will enjoy large windows for natural ventilation. Common lounges, recreation rooms, a classroom and quiet study rooms will be central elements of the project.

The prominent architectural feature will be a four-story, glass-faced bridge linking the two wings. The structure will have a connecting central staircase, and two-story lounges with views of an exterior landscaped courtyard.

“Six years ago, 38 percent of our undergraduate population lived on campus,” Weygand said. “When the new building opens, the University will be able to house about 50 percent of its 13,000 underclassmen on campus in 24 residence halls and on-campus apartments, 17 sororities and fraternities and specialty houses.”

The architects are Lerner Ladds + Bartels of Providence and Mackey Mitchell of St. Louis. They worked with three Rhode Island engineering firms, Odeh Engineers Inc. (structural), Pare Corp. (civil) and Creative Environments Corp. (mechanical/electrical).

URI Department of Communications & Marketing photos by Dave Lavallee.