It started with North Commons closing a little over a year ago. By now the new dorms, Torres, Bowen and Scott Houses, have been open since the beginning of fall semester, and there are four more new residential buildings opening in the fall of 2016. Construction is a daily presence in students’ lives wherever they wander north of Woodruff Ave. With the university’s lofty dreams for the “North Residential District,” including a brand new fitness center and completely revitalized green spaces, that construction will continue to be a reality. Rather than focus on what’s coming, Fisher Ink is looking at the design choices of this proposal, originally backed by former president Gordon Gee, and why they were chosen.
Ground floors are being designed to work with the surrounding environment. Common spaces available to students have two forms: private, where the space is only accessible from the lobby of its building, and public, where the space is accessible from outside, but doesn’t connect to the building’s lobby. Student common spaces in residential buildings, both private and public, will open up to major sidewalks and other pedestrian areas. Furthermore, these spaces encourage students to spend more time there, with accommodations like plentiful chargers, comfortable furniture and natural lighting. Ground floor exteriors are also designed to “welcome students home.” Entrances will have cover in case of inclement weather, and in the evenings the large glass windows will glow. The ultimate goal of the ground floors will be to connect the buildings in each quadrangle. This is meant to strengthen the idea of community across the new North Campus District and promote student connectivity.
There are three tiers of building height: five story “low rise” buildings, six to seven story “mid rise” buildings and 12 story “high rise” buildings. Each building type has its own intended effect on the feng shui of North Campus. The tallest buildings are placed around major areas of North Campus like Lane Avenue and North High Street as well as some of the larger planned outside spaces. The mid rises will be situated around Lane and High in order to create a “strong campus/neighborhood edge.” Finally, low rise buildings will be located to facilitate entry to the Fisher College of Business and the Oak Walk, a proposed walkway intended to provide easy access to any part of the new North Campus.
The North Residential District is intended to be a “pedestrian environment.” The university is planning on removing current parking, both on and off the street, and implementing what they call shared service courts. These courts will be shared among multiple buildings and will feature limited parking for visitors, staff and service vehicles. In addition, they will also serve as a student drop-off zone and an area for various day-to-day business activities like deliveries and trash management. Because the corner of Lane Avenue and North High Street is a high traffic area for students entering campus each day, the university wants to establish “unique architectural design” that defines gateways to campus. The aforementioned Oak Walk is also meant to encourage the image of a pedestrian environment, creating a specific pathway to efficiently move students through North Campus.
Fitness center and Recreation:
North Campus has a slew of new recreational options coming with this development. The centerpiece is a fitness facility that also has rooms dedicated to group classes like yoga or spinning and various meeting rooms. There will be 11,000 square feet of fitness-centric space, which contains gym staples like machines and free weights. Outdoor recreational areas like basketball and sand volleyball courts are also being installed to complement this fitness center.