West Hall opens its doors to students

[Athena Venetsanakos]

FSU’s new residence hall, West, opened for the fall 2016 semester. The overall cost was $44 million with construction costs of $37 million, according to Dale Hamel, executive vice president.

The project was financed through a revenue bond which will be repaid to the Massachusetts State College Building Authority. The scheduled payment for the 2017 fiscal year is $2.88 million, he said.

He added the project came in “under budget” which allowed for landscaping and reconstruction of Maynard Lot.

A grand opening event open to students, faculty and staff will be held on Sept. 28 at 4:30 p.m., said Hamel.

Construction took approximately 18 months and progressed on time, Glenn Cochran associate dean of students and director of Residence Life and Student Conduct said in an email.

The building was designed by Architectural Resources Cambridge (ARC) and constructed by Consigli Construction Co, Inc.

The residence hall was designed to meet green standards.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) program, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), guided building design and construction to ensure that LEED standards were met, Cochran said.

Though West has not completed the LEED Gold Certification, it is expected to be completed in the coming months, he added.

Hamel said West Hall will exceed MassLEED plus requirements. West Hall was built using “low-emitting materials” such as flooring, paint and window shades. Ninety-five percent of the resulting construction waste will be diverted from a landfill.

There are nine standards that must be met in order to qualify as a “green building,” – the integrative process, location and transportation, sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation, he said.

According to Hamel, the building receives points in each category that determine the LEED certification given to the building.

West Hall will use the same green housekeeping standards with cleaning products as used on the rest of the FSU campus, he said.

Suites in West Hall have occupancy and “vacancy sensors” for residents who forget to turn out the lights, Hamel said. These sensors also conserve energy by setting the temperature to a lower point when the rooms are vacant.

West Hall is a unique residence hall equipped with radiant heat panels instead of radiators. The heat automatically shuts off when the windows are unlatched, Cochran said.

The suites in West Hall have been made accessible to residents with “mobility limitations or hearing impairments,” said Hamel. There is an elevator that goes down to the parking lots as well as doorbells outside the suites.

There is also a lighted path and ramp for an accessible route to both the McCarthy and Ecumenical Centers, he said.

Freshman Jazmine Numan said, “Being a freshman, it’s really nice knowing that I get a chance to live in the new building on campus.”

West Hall is unique with its mix of doubles and semi-suite styled rooms conjoined by a shared bathroom, Hamel added.

This change in residence hall design provided “the types of housing experiences that students had indicated as their preferences.” This format of residence living meets the needs of freshman and upperclassman interested in living on campus, Hamel said.

West Hall is 95,000 square feet with 90 suites and 316 beds, which were all occupied when school began. Each floor contains a kitchenette, lounges and “smaller private studies” for study groups, Hamel said.

He said the building was designed with a living room, gas a fireplace, full kitchen and bike storage room.

Each floor has dry-erase paint on the walls for “ease of use,” he added.

According to Hamel, West Hall services as a development of the “Circle of Campus,” an initiative to construct FSU as a “pedestrian-focused campus.” This is a part of the Capital Plan established in 2008 that physically promotes an academic “core.”

Residence halls are designed as the “ring” of campus around academic buildings. Supporting facilities such as the athletic and health centers are within “close proximity” to the center of campus, he said.

The repurposing of O’Connor Hall as academic offices provided the “much needed office space” within the academic core, he added.

Junior Rhiana Parham-Ferrel, a resident of West Hall, transferred from a school where she always wanted to leave and now feels “absolutely comfortable” in West walking around or even relaxing in her room.

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