By Libby Campbell
The construction of a project three years in the making is finally underway as crews began cutting down trees and ripping up asphalt last month. What was once a parking lot next to the URC will be the future home of a residence hall, the newest one at Eastern since the completion of Brewster Hall a decade ago.
The planning first began in 2009 and plans were proposed to the board of trustees in October 2010. They were approved that December, according to Troy Bester, senior project manager of Construction and Planning. The expected completion date is fall 2013.
The removal of the parking lot has caused concerns about parking for students who will live in the new residence hall.
“We’ve worked with parking services. There’s enough parking between the different [residence hall] lots to accommodate the addition of the new hall,” said Josh Ashcroft, chief housing officer of Housing and Residential Life. “The proximity of where people will have to park is a little bit different.”
Students who previously parked in the area now under construction have been using the lot located above Morrison. Ashcroft said there are plenty of open spaces there and around campus.
“Over across from Dressler, there’s [a residence hall] parking lot that’s behind the visitors’ grandstand. Again, lots of parking there as well. So we believe that there is enough parking on campus. The problem students will find is that it’s not as close as they’re used to,” he said.
Ashcroft does not believe students should dwell on the short-term annoyances that come with construction, but focus instead on what is being accomplished.
“There is going to be some short-term impact with the noise of construction. There’s going to be impact on parking as far as where they’re used to parking. They’re going to have to walk a little bit more than what they’re used to,” Ashcroft said. “But I think the end result will be a facility students will love to be a part of, both current and future EWU students.”
The residence hall will house 354 students in double and triple rooms, according to Ashcroft. The first floor will have a common area and serve as the new home of the Housing and Residential Life office, “making it a hub for resident students, prospective students and parents with the residential district,” Bester wrote in an email.
The new residence hall will offer amenities not found anywhere else on campus. “On the first floor, we will have what we call a ‘great room.’ So you can imagine a nice hotel lobby with a gas fireplace and comfy seating for students to read a book or work on their iPads or laptops,” Ashcroft said. Students will also have the option to relax on the first floor’s covered porch.
Floors two through five will consist of double and triple rooms with plenty of communal social areas.
“On every floor, there’s a couple unique things that will be nice for students,” Ashcroft said. “One is that on the end of every wing, there’s a sitting social [area] that is all windows. There will be tons of natural lighting coming in for students to enjoy. Each floor will have a game room, so [they will have] pool, ping-pong, or stuff set up for video games,” he said.
According to Ashcroft, each floor will have a full-sized kitchen complete with a refrigerator and a kitchen bar with bar stools. Students will be able to prepare food and serve their friends. Additional tables in the kitchen will be able to accommodate up to 20 people, so students can maintain a sense of community, something Ashcroft hopes to accomplish with the new residence hall.
“One of the main goals of the new hall was to create some really nice spaces for students to interact outside of their student room: a place to build community, a place to engage in study groups and learning outside of the classroom,” Ashcroft said.