WORCESTER, Mass. – Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) announced it is building a new 232-bed, apartment-style student residence hall between Boynton and Dean streets. The building and an adjacent 189-space parking garage are scheduled to open in the fall of 2008.
The new residence hall will feature four-person apartments with full kitchens, living rooms, compartmentalized bathrooms, and either single or double bedrooms. The air-conditioned building will also include recreation and fitness facilities, technology suites on each floor, and full wireless access. It will be the first major residence hall constructed at WPI since the completion in 1985 of Founders Hall, which also sits between Boynton and Dean streets, just to the west of the construction site. The new building was designed by Boston-based CannonDesign; the general contractor is Gilbane Building Company.
WPI worked closely with local neighbors, as well as students, faculty, and staff, during the site selection and design processes for the structure. The building's design and exterior finishes were carefully chosen to harmonize with neighboring buildings. The university also worked to address the need for additional parking along Dean and Boynton streets by including in the design a garage that can accommodate student resident parking. WPI has also included in its plans a special access road and dedicated parking spaces that will be made available to the Church of Our Savior of Worcester, which sits immediately to the east of the new residence hall.
The residence hall will be WPI's second environmentally sensitive, or "green," building (the first is Bartlett Center, the admissions and financial aid building which opened in May 2006). The university will seek LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification for the residence hall from the U.S. Green Building Council, which provides independent, third-party verification that a building project meets the highest performance standards.
A landscaped "arts walk" will be developed between the new residence hall and Founders Hall, providing an attractive route for members of the WPI community and neighbors heading to the Worcester Art Museum, Tuckerman Hall, and the other venues in the downtown arts and culture district. The new building and the arts walk are key elements in the university's master plan, which calls for developing a vibrant lower campus that begins to link WPI's main campus with the downtown area and to Gateway Park, the 11-acre mixed-use life sciences-based campus the university is developing in partnership with the Worcester Business Development Corporation.
"With this, our newest residence hall, WPI is able to provide our upperclass students (sophomores, juniors, and seniors) with a compelling reason to remain on campus," says Janet Begin Richardson, vice president for student affairs and campus life at WPI. "In doing so, the university benefits greatly from the leadership, mentorship, experience and talent of its students being part of the residential community on campus.
"The building is designed specifically with the students' needs and expectations in mind, including their desire for privacy, independence, safety, and security," she says. "With its technology suites and wireless access, the facility is also well suited for meeting their academic requirements and responsibilities, particularly those related to their required project work."
Alumni and friends of WPI will provide major funding for this new facility through a host of named giving opportunities, including the main lobby ($2 million), the community conference room ($750,000), the exercise room ($750,000), an outdoor garden ($500,000), music rooms ($200,000 each), and project meeting rooms ($200,000 each).
In addition to beginning construction of the new residence hall, WPI will make a number of changes to the adjacent Founders Hall this summer, including creating a new restaurant and a convenience store on the first floor. The headquarters of the university's Police Department has also been relocated to Founders Hall.