University of Puget Sound breaks ground on new residence hall

University of Puget Sound officials announced Thursday a contemporary new residence and event hall, with sweeping modern spaces and a traditional Tudor Gothic exterior, will open on campus in autumn 2013.

Preliminary work for the 55,000-square-foot building began in May on the corner of North 13th and Lawrence streets, near the center of campus overlooking Commencement Walk. The 135-single-bedroom residence features innovative spaces and amenities that encourage students to connect academically and socially with their peers, while providing them with privacy and independent living. While the total number of students attending Puget Sound will remain constant at 2,600 undergraduates, the new hall will allow more upper-level students to live on campus, close to friends, services, and social and intellectual activities. The hall also gives the Puget Sound community new spaces for teaching, meetings, and activities.

“As a residential national liberal arts college, creating an inspiring and seamless environment for student learning and living is at the heart of our mission,” said President Ronald R. Thomas. “The new residence hall will be home to students involved in four academic and co-curricular communities, encouraging them to dig deep into their current interests and to explore widely across other areas of thought.”

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson of Seattle — the firm that also designed Weyerhaeuser Hall, the University of Puget Sound’s new center for health sciences, which opened in August 2011 — has designed the new building. The brick and masonry design blends with the Tudor Gothic style of current buildings and provides communal areas lit by floor-length windows with views of Mount Rainier and the campus. The Seattle office of the 125-year-old firm Skanska is the project’s general contractor. Designed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, the hall will have a 150-seat meeting room, student art gallery, seminar room, four study rooms, a pillared walkway, and an outdoor courtyard designed to support learning themes. The five-story residence hall includes 11 student “houses.” Each house contains nine to 14 individual bedrooms surrounding a great room kitchen and living area, as well as study and gathering areas, bathrooms, and laundry facilities. The hall will house four residential academic communities, including students involved in humanities; Puget Sound outdoors and environmental policy and decision-making; international and global education; and spirituality and social justice.

The concept for the new hall was developed after considerable study by the Dean of Students Office, led by Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Segawa, and consultation with Academic Vice President and Dean Kris Bartanen and faculty members. Numerous research studies show that students who live on campus benefit academically and socially. Students living on campus on average have higher cumulative grade point averages, more involvement in campus life, and are more likely to graduate.

“Living on campus extends the intellectual conversation beyond classroom hours and classroom walls to create a holistic learning environment in which students are engaged and challenged,” Segawa said.

More information about the residence hall is online here.