URI students use superlatives to describe new residence hall

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First new housing on Kingston campus since 1971 ‘wows’ residents

KINGTSON, R.I. – October 23, 2006 – Gorgeous, bright, spacious and comfortable are just a few of the ways University of Rhode Island students are describing their living quarters in the new North Woods Complex.

During the Columbus Day weekend, 238 students moved into the first new housing facility on the Kingston Campus since 1971. Building A of the North Woods Complex is the first major complex developed for undergraduate students that includes apartments and suites.

“When I walked in, I just said, ‘wow.’ This is just so amazing,” said Colleen Black, an ocean engineering major from Martinsburg, W. Va. “It’s our favorite place.”

One of her apartment-mates, Jessica Lehmann, a pharmacy major from Park Ridge, N.J., called the complex gorgeous. “This makes it so much more enticing to stay on campus.”

Officials from Housing and Residential Life and Dining Services threw a welcome home party this week for all the residents, featuring live jazz music, hot appetizers and soft drinks. “We wanted to welcome them to their new home and their new neighborhood,” said Chip Yensan, director of Housing and Residential Life,” he said. “We also wanted to thank them for their patience and graciousness.”

Building A of the new neighborhood, which is located at Heathman and Flagg roads, was originally scheduled to open over Labor Day weekend, but a variety of factors delayed the opening about five weeks.

“It was absolutely worth the wait,” said Andrew Bundeff, a Cumberland resident studying pharmacy, whose comments were echoed by numerous residents. “It’s great becoming part of the North Woods community because it’s not just a place to crash.”

Bundeff and his friends agreed that such a facility would foster a sense of community, because more students will be on campus and be more likely to enjoy campus activities.

He was also impressed with the party. “I kidded a friend of mine, saying what do you think they are going to serve us, scallops and bacon? Then when I came down, that’s exactly what they had. I couldn’t believe it.”

He and his friends were sitting in the Grand Lounge near a big-screen television that was showing ESPN. The lounge, which is an atrium with skylights, runs the full height of the four-story building. Scenic photography, featuring local seashore and URI scenes by AL “Butch” Ferris, a dining employee, surround the atrium.

“I really appreciate the money the University is spending on housing, landscaping, lighting, and classroom space,” Bundeff said.

Kourtney Simpson, a microbiology major from Providence who works as a resident assistant in the complex, said North Woods offers a completely different atmosphere from the other undergraduate residence halls. “I love it because we have our kitchens, our own single rooms.”

The resident assistants’ apartments are also different in the new building in that they each have two doors, one of which opens to the common areas and another that opens to the hallway. “The entrance to the hallway is great for students who might want to come see me about a problem, but want to maintain their privacy. It’s also helpful when I am on call and have to respond to an issue. I don’t have to disturb my roommates.”

Mike Medeiros is a fifth-year pharmacy student from Lewiston, Maine who lives off campus in Narragansett. But he has friends in the apartments. “How many days have I been here guys? What, every day since it was opened?” Friends who live in the apartments gathered and chuckled with Medeiros in the living room.

Each living area has either four or five single rooms, with two lavatories, each equipped with shower and toilet, and two separate sinks with counter space. The apartments have kitchens with tile floors and which are equipped with electric ranges, microwave ovens, dishwashers and plenty of cabinets. The living rooms or common rooms are equipped with comfortable chairs. The hallway living areas and Grand Lounge all have carpet tiles, which can be replaced easily when they get soiled. The building houses living and learning units for the Honors Program, the College of the Environment and Life Sciences and URI athletics.

The building is also nationally certified for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance “green” buildings. The designation gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their building’s performance. Certification recognizes performance in five key areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Building A is part of a $74 million project, which also includes a second North Woods facility and the West Side Suites behind Browning Hall. Construction continues on Building B of North Woods and the West Side Suites.

“I love having my own room,” said Lauren Pelkey, a pharmacy major from Presque Isle, Maine. “But we also have a place where we can all hang out.”

Steve Cannici, secondary education and chemistry major from Fairlawn, N.J., lives in the College of the Environment and Life Sciences theme area of the complex. “I am just so glad to be part of this community, and I hope I can contribute to it.”