Two projects on UW-Eau Claire’s Master Plan have passed the State Building Commission, one of many steps on the plan to expand Eau Claire’s campus into the future.
One of those projects is the construction of a new residence hall on upper campus that will house approximately 350 students in predominantly suite-like rooms.
Executive Director of University Communication Mike Rindo said this residence hall will not completely solve Eau Claire’s housing problem.
“As it stands now, we are at about 108 percent capacity,” Rindo said. “With the addition of the new residence hall, it will definitely be a step in the right direction for the campus, but will not totally rectify the problem.”
The other project approved by the State Building Commission is for improvements to Garfield Avenue, including making the area by the footbridge more accessible for pedestrians, and potentially adding an outdoor classroom.
Rindo said the goals of the project are to make Garfield Avenue primarily pedestrian-friendly and to start preparing for the Master Plan’s goals of removing Katherine Thomas and Putnam Halls from campus.
The unnamed residence hall will be placed near Horan and Governors Halls, possibly wiping out some of the parking lot and tennis courts that currently occupy the space.
“We know it will be in that general area,” Rindo said. “It will be in the area adjacent to the basketball courts and the tennis courts. Then it’s the Horan, Governors, Sutherland, Bridgman, Crest area. Exactly how it’s going to be sited, that’s still up in the air.”
Housing Director Chuck Major said the Milwaukee-based architect firm Ensberg Anderson has been chosen to start the design process of the building itself. Major said if all goes well, the residence hall should be fully operational in 2016.
“Now what they have been chosen to do is to make the design for the hall,” Major said. “They have been chosen amongst other good options to begin
After the building design is completed, Rindo said they have to send their reports to the Building Commission once again. After that is completed, it will enter the state budget and Gov. Scott Walker will have to sign off on the bill. At that point, bids from construction companies around the area can begin.
After the university has come to an agreement with a company, construction can finally begin and will take some time to complete, Major said.
“After it’s all said and done, the construction phase will take from 12 to 15 months,” Major said. “It looks like we are set to be operational in the fall of 2016.”
When completed, the dorm will make for a definite change in scenery on upper campus. However, Rindo expects the new residence hall to be popular with students.
Sophomore Adam Moline said he backs the move by the university to make more living space available on campus.
“I’m totally fine with getting a new dorm and getting rid of the tennis courts,” Moline said. “From what I can tell, not many people use the tennis courts and it would have to get some of the people out of the hotels.”
Moline also said he thinks Chancellor’s Hall is fantastic and everyone will want the single room option the new residence hall will provide.