New Residence Hall West Changes Landscape for Living, Learning
Aug. 27, 2014
With the opening of the new Residence Hall West this fall, UT Dallas students are gaining more than expanded on-campus living options.
They now have a dining hall and recreation center in their own backyard, saving them a trek across campus to grab a meal or have a quick workout.
The $75 million, 600-bed housing complex on the University’s northwest corner is the fifth and largest residence hall built on campus since 2009, helping the University keep pace with student enrollment growth.
“This new housing complex is another way we are responding to the needs of our growing student population that desires to live on campus,” said Dr. Calvin Jamison, vice president for the Office of Administration. “Residence Hall West offers a whole different look and feel for on-campus living. It’s a game changer for UT Dallas.”
The new complex is dedicated to housing freshman students in Living Learning Communities (LLCs), groups of students who share the same academic interests, said Matt Grief, associate vice president for Student Affairs. Thanks to the new facility, the University can accommodate nearly double the number of LLC participants from last year.
The northwest corner of campus at UT Dallas has become home to more students every year. Residence Hall West is the fifth residence hall built since 2009.
“We’ve included 31 study spaces, gaming rooms, lounges and other nooks where students can focus on their studies and their core classes, some of which will even be held in the facility,” Grief said.
About 580 incoming students this year have signed on for LLCs in management, pre-health, engineering, computer science, arts and technology, and social sciences as part of their freshman year experience.
LLC students live together on the same floor or wing of the residence hall, and often study and take classes together. Each floor has lounge areas where they can have group study sessions or plug in game consoles and relax together.
The new facility’s three-bedroom residential suites are similar to those in other residence halls on campus, and there’s also room for classrooms and offices for Residential Life, Living Learning Communities, University Housing and Residential Camp and Conference Services.
Besides its obvious aesthetic appeal, Residence Hall West was built with green features in mind.
“The new complex features double-glazed glass that reflects more heat and lowers the amount of energy needed to cool spaces, and high-efficiency, multistage chillers that allow only the amount of chilled water needed to cool the buildings,” said Kelly Kinnard, director for Physical Plant Services.
The new nearby dining and recreational spaces, which are open to all students, faculty and staff, are likely to be the biggest draw.
Dining Hall West can accommodate 750 guests for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Three TV banks hold nine screens for sports, news and announcements, and floor-to-ceiling windows along one wall offer a view of the nearby pond.
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Other features include cooking stations, a bakery, expanded vegan and vegetarian offerings, frozen yogurt and espresso machines, and even a Comet waffle iron that stamps school spirit into the finished product.
Students also have retail food purchase options in the lobby, where a convenience store sells packaged food, frozen food, ice cream and snacks. A full-service Papa John’s Pizza offers late-night dining.
Real-time reviews of meals are posted on screens in the lobby, so diners can see daily recommendations.
Bob Fishbein, assistant vice president for auxiliary services, said the expanded dining options also will appeal to students living in nearby on-campus apartments.
“We’re right in their backyard, so we expect we’ll have students from apartments eating here as well,” Fishbein said, adding that faculty and staff also will take advantage of the dining hall.
Around the corner, Recreation Center West features two full-size convertible basketball courts that will be primarily used for badminton and volleyball. The center also has a cardio-based weight room with some free weights, a dance/exercise studio, lockers and staff offices. Staff also will offer group exercise classes, including Zumba, high-intensity interval training and body sculpting.
“We have 2,400 students living in the vicinity, so we treated it as your neighborhood recreational center,” Tricia Losavio, director of recreational sports, said of the 25,000-square-foot center.
Any staff or faculty with a membership at the Activity Center also can use Recreational Center West, Losavio said.