KINGSTON, R.I. – February 12, 2007 — Residents of the new University of Rhode Island West Side Suites celebrated the opening of the residence hall today along with faculty, staff and administrators.
It is the second of three new residence halls to be opened this academic year by the University. At the North Woods Complex, Building A opened in the fall with Building B set to open in late spring. When Building B opens, the University will have added 800 beds of new housing on the Kingston Campus at a cost of $74 million. The three buildings are the first new residence halls since 1971.
In addition, construction of the University’s $22 million, 43,000-square-foot-dining hall, Hope Commons, will be completed by April and will serve the freshmen orientation sessions as a warm-up to the fall semester.
“We expect all four buildings to achieve a Leadership in Energy Efficient Design Silver rating from the Green Building Council,” said Paul DePace, URI’s director of capital projects.
Chip Yensan, director of residential life and assistant vice president of student affairs, said the nearly 300 residents of the West Side Suites were able get settled in their new rooms Jan. 18, two days prior to the spring semester move-in date for all other campus residents. The West Side Suites residents moved primarily from Hutchinson, Peck and Merrow halls, residential facilities now closed for renovations.
Yensan said the students and parents were thrilled with the new building, which features an atrium lounge and covered interior bridge that can be used to get from one side of the third floor to the other or be used as meeting space.
Tamara Burman, a senior resident assistant who moved from Merrow Hall, couldn’t stop smiling while talking about her new surroundings. “It is so nice and it is so much quieter,” the exercise science major said. “The design is a big reason why it is so quiet. I study here all the time.
“It’s so new and clean that the students are being really respectful,” the Woonsocket resident said. “They know they have a good place to live and they want to take care of it.”
Caitlin Benson, a freshman student from Coventry, is in a four-person suite. There are two large rooms with two students in each. There is plenty of space for the two beds, two bureaus and two large armoires.
“I really like the high ceilings because you can put pictures everywhere. Plus each room has its own bathroom,” Benson said. “The common living room is great because if my roommate needs some quiet time, I can relax or hang out with friends there.”
The large atrium lounge was a hub for the Super Bowl. “There was a big crowd watching the TV and there was a whole bunch of food,” Benson said.
Most of the suites offer a 10-room arrangement around a common living area, with three bathrooms. In addition, there are a limited number of four- and five-room suites. Most of the suites offer single rooms.
The five-story structure has a view of the Ryan Center and Meade Stadium to the northwest so its residents will be able to see when a game or other big event is about to happen.
“We have two large, bright seminar rooms off the atrium lounge where we can provide programming and hold classes such as URI 101,” Yensan said. “And of course, there is plenty of room in the atrium lounge for bigger social events, such as watching a sporting event or movie on the large screen TV.”
The building’s exterior is complementary to the surrounding residence halls, known as the Freshman Village, which have all undergone renovations and upgrades. “We were very aware of the existing site issues within the Freshman Village, and we took care in matching roof lines of the West Side Suites and Browning Hall. We used the same basic exterior color palette as well,” Yensan said.
IN HER ROOM: Caitlin Benson, a freshman student from Coventry, smiles while sitting at her desk in the new West Side Suites at URI. URI News Bureau photo by Michael Salerno photography.
NEW HOME: Tamara Burman, a senior resident assistant, pauses in the atrium lounge of the new West Side Suites at URI. She is a resident of Woonsocket. URI News Bureau photo by Michael Salerno photography.