Plan for replacing UW student housing revealed

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LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — A study recommends replacing the University of Wyoming's old residence halls over the next 10 years.

Officials say the plan could cost up to $200 million to accomplish but architects haven't come up with a good estimate yet.

The Laramie Boomerang reports ( ) that the plan was presented this week to the UW Board of Trustees, UW faculty and city leadership.

Nearly all University of Wyoming freshmen are required to live their first year in residence halls.

The plan would replace all of the current buildings between 15th and 19th streets along Grand Avenue in three phases, said Kurt Haapala, project designer from Mahlum Architects in Portland, Oregon.

Crane Hall and Crane Dining Center would be replaced first, followed by Hill, Orr and McIntyre halls. White and Downey halls and the Washakie Dining Center would be demolished last.

They would be replaced by 10 residence halls, which could increase capacity to about 2,200 students, an increase of more than 200 beds over current dorms. The style of rooms would also move away from the more traditional dorm setup.

"Most students want to live in single and double suite environments with a shared bathroom," Haapala said. "The communal bathrooms down the hall tend to be not what they are used to."

Several living rooms, lounges and nooks would be integrated throughout the buildings. The buildings themselves vary between four and six floors and symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes.

A new dining center, a new bakery and a retail building would flank a central plaza in the center of the housing complex.

"A real central place for hundreds and hundreds of people to come and dine and make connections," Haapala said. "We want people off-campus, not just students, but everyone to come and buy doughnuts and bagels from the bakery."

An ice arena could work well in the open area, Haapala said. The 10 buildings would be separated into two separate communities — six buildings on the east side of the plaza and four on the west. Smaller open spaces would also fill spaces between the buildings.

The plan also suggested closing King's Road to traffic, allowing students to cross the area without fear of vehicles.

The tunnels underneath the dorms would also be eliminated and replaced by above-ground corridors.

"We need to get above the ground. We're not moles," Haapala said.

The corridors would connect nearly all buildings to the dining center, but gaps of about 20-30 feet would likely be necessary.

The problem of students having to cross 15th Street was addressed briefly, but no idea was integrated into the plan.

The study is the first step in the new residence hall planning. A level two plan would go more in-depth and provide a more accurate estimate of the project's cost, Haapala said.

No estimated start date has been set for the project.


Information from: Laramie Boomerang,

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