Big changes are in store for University housing when the newest residential hall, Cypress Hall, opens in fall 2015. Construction on another new residential hall, Spruce Hall, will begin this semester.
Upgrades to Evangeline Hall will start in summer 2015, and renovations to Highland Hall and Louise Garig Hall will begin once the Evangeline Hall project is completed.
Director of Residential Life Steven Waller said construction of the new residence halls is a response to the demand for more student housing on campus.
“Three years ago, we turned away 1,000 students,” Waller said. “Two years ago, we turned away 500 students. We’re still turning away students.”
The 20 residential halls on campus house a total of 6,000 students. The opening of Cypress Hall will add an additional 330 beds, Waller said.
Located on the west side of campus near the Enchanted Forest and Greek Amphitheatre, Cypresss Hall will be the first residence hall on campus to be Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. The building will house many eco-friendly features, Waller said.
Cypress Hall will house indoor bike racks, a solar panel and light-reflecting roof tiles. The hall will be made partly of renewable materials, Waller said.
Cypress Hall will be available to students majoring in the schools of education, kinesiology and social work, according to the Department of Residential Life’s website.
Spruce Hall will begin construction this semester and is scheduled to be completed in 2017, making an additional 421 beds available to freshmen, Waller said.
Providing housing to freshmen is a top priority for the University, Waller said. About 65 percent of incoming freshmen choose to live on campus. The goal is for the University to eventually house 85 percent of freshmen.
Plans are also underway to improve current residential housing conditions. Evangeline Hall will be the first to see major renovations, said Roger Husser, director of Planning, Design and Construction.
Husser said the renovations will upgrade the interior of Evangeline Hall. The outer structure will remain mostly intact.
Renovations will start during summer 2015, and Evangeline Hall will remained closed until fall 2017, Waller said.
Biology freshman Claire Stansberry said Evangeline Hall could use major upgrades, and she’s glad to see plans are in the works to make the residential hall more appealing to future students.
“My air conditioning goes out all the time, and that’s a big issue,” Stansberry said. “Everything is really old. Besides the new furniture in the lobby, the building itself is really old and you can tell it hasn’t been updated in a long time. Even though I won’t be living here to see the upgrades, I think it’s good and will get more people to live here.”
Following the renovations to Evangeline Hall, upgrades to Highland Hall and Louise Garig Hall will begin in 2017 and last until 2019. The goal is to remove greenhouses on campus, freeing up space for the new buildings, Waller said.
Waller said the future plans call for the removal of six buildings built in the ’60s: Miller Hall, Herget Hall, McVoy Hall, Acadian Hall, Broussard Hall and Kirby Smith Hall.
The removal of these buildings and the construction of additional residence halls should be completed within 10 years, Waller said.