Roanoke College

Building fine living

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  • Building fine living

  • 08/22/12
  • From the Roanoke College Magazine, Issue Two, 2012. View the entire Roanoke Magazine online.

    A fresh option for Roanoke College living - and a major step toward the College's goal of bolstering its position as a leading residential liberal arts college - debuts this fall.

    The College's newest and largest residence hall, located next to the Caldwell Allegheny Ritter complex (C.A.R.), will open in August, providing new housing for 243 Roanoke students.

    Nitra Eastby '14 is one of them, and she can't wait to move in. The Roanoke athletic training major will return to campus after a year renting a house in Salem.  For her, the new campus digs are ideal. Eastby wanted to live closer to her classes and to the Bast Center, where she works as a student trainer.

    "It wasn't beneficial for me to be off campus anymore," said Eastby, who also competed on Roanoke's cross country and indoor track teams in the fall and winter. "My schedule was so busy."

    College officials anticipate that the new 82,700-square-foot, state-of-the- art residence hall will bring Roanoke closer to its goal of housing 75 percent of students on campus, said Dr. Eugene Zdziarski, vice president of Student Affairs at Roanoke. The new hall will significantly increase the College's residential capacity and provide a variety of living options.

    Eastby initially was not keen on trading the amenities of off-campus living space for a traditional dorm room. But her home in the new residence hall will give her the best of both worlds -apartment living steps away from her classes. She landed a first-floor apartment in the new hall, where she'll live with three friends. The space includes four single bedrooms, a lounge area, a kitchen and two bathrooms.

    "The apartments really changed my mind about going back on campus," said Eastby of Farmville,Va.

    Her new apartment is directly across from Donald J. Kerr Stadium, where she will spend many afternoons in the fall as a student trainer for Roanoke's soccer team.

    Already, Roanoke's newest residence hall is proving to be a popular space. The College Gothic-style building was the first to fill up during the spring housing selection process, beating out other in-demand spaces, including Afton and Elizabeth halls, both all-apartment residence halls. The neighboring C.A.R. is the next largest Roanoke residential facility, with space for 156 students.

    But the new residence hall - unnamed for now - brings features that students have never seen at Roanoke. Its look incorporates many of the latest trends in college residence hall design. Construction began last spring on the four-story structure, which features a front lobby, numerous energy-efficient features and three different living styles.

    Variety is the theme. The $15.5 million structure includes a mix of suites, quads and apartments. Suites consist of two double bedrooms, with a shared bathroom. Each quad houses 12 to 15 students with a large kitchen and common space surrounded by single and double bedrooms. There also are three apartments in the building, each housing four students.

    The idea of including different living styles under one roof is simple: Students don't want to reside in a drab dormitory where every room looks the same. Colleges across the country are replacing aging residence halls built in the 1950s and 1960s with halls that contain modern features and spaces that break up these structures into small communities, according to Building Design + Construction, a magazine for the building industry.

    Roanoke's new residence hall is configured to give students opportunities to build close-knit communities. A wing exclusive to Honors Program students is one example of a small community within the new residence hall. Situated to the right of the building, the wing's first floor houses a kitchen, lounge, classroom and offices as well as a two-bedroom apartment for a faculty member. Also, there are quads with single and double bedrooms on the second and third floors for students in Honors.

    "Literally a student could move into this building as a freshman and stay here all four years," with the option of moving to different spaces, Zdziarski said.

    Along with a unique design, the new residence hall will be the first green student housing space at Roanoke. The building is registered for certification as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) project, due in part to water-saving plumbing, energy-efficient and natural lighting, and carpet made with 66 percent recycled content.

    According to College Planning & Management magazine, which highlights sustainability as a major residence hall design trend at campuses nationwide, students who've grown up with an interest in sustainability are increasingly demanding greener residences.

    Once certified, the new hall at Roanoke would be the second LEED building on campus, along with Lucas Hall, which reopened after renovations in 2010.

    The state-of-the-art building also will house a front lobby that will be manned in the evenings, flat panel televisions in hallways and tan ceramic tile floors and walls in the bathrooms. Roanoke hired an interior designer to match colors, furnishings and other items.

    Even so, Roanoke students had a hand in determining the hall's look. Last spring, they rated four different color schemes for the building's interior. Rather than choosing a brightly-colored palette, the majority of students voted for earth tone hues of tan, yellow, lime green and teal for wall paint and carpet. Each floor has a different color scheme.

    The warm colors define the new hall's modern ambience and invite students to settle in.

    "Students said, 'It feels more like home,'" Zdziarski said.

    -Jenny Kincaid Boone '01