New residence hall on-budget, on-time


Mary Mitchell

Construction continues on the new residence hall, “Building No. 9.”

At the beginning of fall 2016, there were around 100 students living in a nearby Extended Stay America hotel because there weren’t enough dorm rooms. Even more students were on a waiting list.

“We’re finding that our largest growth in on-campus housing demand is our returning students, and although we are seeing some increases with regard to incoming freshman, the percentage of returning students is increasing faster than that,” said Director of University Housing James Zentmeyer.

Oak View Hall, which added 500 beds to the campus, was completed in fall 2014 and filled the first semester it was open.

As part of Oakland University’s Campus Master Plan, a new housing facility, designed for sophomores and up, is being constructed between Pawley Hall and the university’s newest parking structure, P32.

“The new construction is on-budget and on-time and is scheduled to be complete the summer of 2018,” Zentmeyer said.

The structure will have seven stories and will be made up of four sections, labeled A, B, C and D.

Sections A and B will include mainly public spaces and a 400-seat dining facility, while sections C and D are set to be completely residential, consisting of layouts with four single bedrooms sharing a common room.

According to Zentmeyer, the building will also hold a small recreation center, four general-use classrooms and a 100-seat restaurant on the third floor.

It was designed by Neumann/Smith Architecture, and the Rochester-based construction team, Frank Rewold and Son Inc., which also built Oak View Hall, is constructing the building.

Crews are currently putting up concrete planks for the fourth level, with structural steel for sections A and B arriving on Feb. 1.

The facility will be over 289,000 square feet and cost a total of $78 million.

“University Housing is not related to student tuition whatsoever,” Zentmeyer said. “It’s completely an auxiliary service and completely self-sufficient financially, so our operation runs based on the fees that we receive from the students that live on campus.”

The Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research reported that students who live on campus have 0.19 to 0.97 higher GPAs than those who commute.

“When I am on campus, I’m more attuned to studying,” said Amy Weed, a sophomore and  Residence Halls Association secretary who lives in Oak View Hall. “Whenever I go home, I have to make sure that I already have all my homework done and all my studying done [and] there’s no exams I have to worry about.”

According to OU Fast Facts, there are 2,700 students living on OU’s campus, which is approximately 13 percent of the student population.

Renovations of Vandenberg Hall are also underway. The $20-million project is currently in its second phase of the three-year plan.

Phase One was renovations to West Vandenberg last summer, costing $11 million; Phase Two will be East Vandenberg this summer, at $6.5 million; and Phase Three will be middle Vandenberg, at $2.5 million.

Renovations include the replacement of the switch gear for all electrical systems, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act for emergency generation and the installation of a fire-suppression sprinkler system.

“We’re really unique nationally in that along with this heavy reinvestment in the infrastructure, we’re also building new at the same time,” Zentmeyer said.