Hillside Residence Hall Breaks Ground

On Tuesday morning, May 10, 2011, the Hillside Residence Hall at the University of Rhode Island celebrated its groundbreaking after the completion of site preparation. Construction will begin in a matter of days for the $42 million project. Governor Lincoln Chafee commented, "This is another example of a University on the move. We all know the importance of higher education in Rhode Island, especially our public research university, in being a catalyst for jobs and creating the entrepreneurs of the future. Just a few months ago, I was here at this beautiful campus to discuss my proposal to increase funding for higher education by $10 million. I hope as we continue to build support for our public university and colleges, we have many more days like these to celebrate our successes.”

From the URI Press Release by Dave Lavallee:

URI President David M. Dooley said Hillside Hall is a critical part of the strategic plan for URI in building a diverse community. “We know that living in a residence hall builds social and leadership skills, enhances students’ ability to relate to those different from themselves and leads to friendships that enrich their lives,” Dooley said. “This building will also be another striking example of our ability to innovate and respond to critical environmental issues that could affect generations to come.”

David Coates, URI student body president, said the project is another step to enhance the student experience. “I understand how critical campus improvements are and am greatly excited that our first- and second-year students will have the opportunity to live in a state of the art facility,” Coates said. “The Hillside facility will enhance the overall appeal of the University to prospective students, as well as embrace URI’s commitment to green and sustainable technology. Projects like this are essential to maintaining the excellent quality of life enjoyed by URI students. I look forward to seeing the benefits of this project and the positive impact it will have on the campus community.”

Hillside Hall is designed to be the gateway of URI’s undergraduate residential district. The five-story structure will house 429 students in double rooms, each with 9-foot-high ceilings, built-in closets and the newest technology. This residence hall is targeted for URI’s freshmen and sophomore classes. The project is located on Baird Hill. The east side of the property will be preserved as woodlands, and existing student residence halls flank the remaining sides. Residents at Hillside hall will have a convenient walk to the URI Memorial Union and nearby classroom buildings.

Lerner Ladds Bartels Architects of Providence designed the building in collaboration with three Rhode Island firms: Odeh Engineers Inc. (structural), Pare Corporation (civil), and Creative Environment Corp. (mechanical/electrical/plumbing), and associate architect Mackey Mitchell Architects of St. Louis. Hillside Hall will feature several architectural elements and use many of the traditional materials of neighboring halls, yet will reflect more modern styling and innovative building technologies that will reduce its environmental impact.

Residents will enjoy large windows for natural ventilation and lighting. There will be common lounges, recreation rooms, a classroom and multi-purpose room, and quiet study rooms throughout the building. A strong architectural feature will be the four-story, glass-faced bridge linking the two wings of the building. This structure will offer a connecting central staircase and two-story lounges with outstanding views of the exterior landscaped courtyards.

In response to URI’s environmentally-conscious students, Hillside Hall will have up to 30 percent of its domestic hot water needs supplied by rooftop solar collectors. The building is designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver standards established by the U.S. Green Building Council. Many of the building materials will have recycled content, and the building will also feature naturally ventilated spaces, a vegetated roof, heat-recovery equipment, indoor bicycle storage, and building energy monitors in the main lobby.

The ground floor of the building will house new offices for URI’s Department of Housing and Residential Life. The department will move from its current home in the Roger Williams Commons building, which is being transformed this year into a new student wellness and fitness center.

“This new residence hall represents another major step in the University’s efforts to modernize and expand its on-campus housing,” said Chip Yensan, assistant vice president for Student Affairs and director of Housing and Residential Life. “Within the last five-and-a-half years, we opened three new residences to address the needs of upperclassmen, and now we are embarking on a new facility that will enhance the freshman and sophomore experience. The goal in all of these projects is to create a more vital campus community through the development of energetic and connected neighborhoods.”

“This new residence hall represents a substantial step in our continuing efforts to become a more sustainable community,” said Robert A. Weygand, vice president for Administration and Finance. “Six years ago, 38 percent of our undergraduate population lived on campus. When the new building opens, the University will be able to house about 50 percent of its 13,000 underclassmen on campus in 24 residence halls and on-campus apartments, 17 sororities and fraternities and specialty houses.”

The Hillside Hall project follows the opening of Eddy, Garrahy and Wiley Halls in 2006-2007, the first new campus living units on the Kingston Campus since 1971. All three were LEED Certified.

No taxpayer funds will be used to pay for the new housing complex. Revenue bonds, which are paid off by students who use University living facilities, will finance the project. Hillside Hall will be the most energy efficient residence hall on campus.