Apr 262005
Authors: Nicole Morgan

When students return for the fall semester they will notice something missing: Ellis Hall.

This hall will be torn down this summer as part of a $45 million project to construct a brand-new residence hall.

"When students return they will find a big hole in the ground where Ellis use to be," said Rick Pott, assistant director of housing management and services.

The new residence hall, to be called the "Academic Village," is scheduled to open for students fall 2007. The hall will include a home for 420 residents, classrooms, faculty offices and graduate school departments. It is designed for engineering and honors students.

"The academic village is going to be a living, learning environment," Pott said, adding that classrooms in the residence halls have never been tried before.

"We are bringing professors to students," Pott said.

Despite the new additions, some students are not pleased with the idea of having classrooms in their residence halls.

"Classrooms in dorms are not a good idea," said Lindsey Dahlberg, a sophomore psychology major and Ellis Hall resident. "It is too distracting with dorms and class life in the same building."

Students in construction management, interior design, landscape architecture, engineering and the Residence Hall Association have been participating with the new residence hall's development.

The goal for the students who are involved in the project is to work toward "resource awareness, sustainability and decreased resource consumption as a model for future campus construction," according to a university press release.

A new dining hall is also planned for the building. The dining hall will include a "marketplace" where food will be cooked right in front of students, which Pott said has not been done before.

The university will be receiving the $45 million for the project from the sale of revenue bond, which is an which is when the university sells an investment bond to private investors to pay for a project.

"The bonds are paid back on an annual payment. It is like a home mortgage," said Mike McCormick, new construction coordinator for Housing and Dining Services.

The sale for the revenue bonds is scheduled to occur in May and June. The use of revenue bonds distinguishes the "Academic Village" from academic buildings. The building is not state-funded and is not a liability to taxpayers, McCormick said.

With the elimination of Ellis Hall, there is one fewer residence hall to house incoming freshmen in the fall. Summit Hall holds twice as many residents as Ellis Hall.

"Summit Hall was built to offset the occupancy of Ellis," McCormick said.

Ellis Hall was built in the late '50s and has become energy inefficient, Pott said.

The plans for the new hall began last year after students expressed interest in the idea. Design began earlier this month.

"We're really in the conceptual stage right now," McCormick said.

The 50-year-old residence hall has shown signs of old age.

"It's old. One night the tiles on the shower fell off," said Caroline Keen, a junior biology major who lives in Ellis. "It's sad, but Ellis is falling apart."

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