Officials from The University of Texas at El Paso discussed the initial phase of what could be “the most ambitious and most exciting” student housing community in the almost 100-year history of the University during a media event June 13.
Greg McNicol, associate vice president for business affairs - facilities management, described the three-building complex as the first phase of what could become a 3,000-bed community with food service, recreation components and other resources.
While much of the plan is conceptual, the first phase – two four-story residence halls that will accommodate 352 students and a commons building – should break ground in the next two weeks on a 6.2-acre plot of land off Sun Bowl Drive that overlooks an arroyo behind the University’s Helen of Troy Softball Complex.
“The complex is an essential building block for UTEP’s strategic plan to increase the number of students who reside on campus, attract competitive doctoral students and enhance student involvement in the UTEP community,” McNicol said.
He was joined at the media event at Summit Hall in UTEP’s Miner Village by University President Diana Natalicio, UTEP Director of Residence Life Charlie Gibbens, Ed.D., and Kelly Pettigrew, owner of Tempe, Ariz.-based Sundt Construction, the project’s general contractor. They were surrounded by renderings, floor plans and an overview of what the project will look like when it is completed in time for the spring 2015 semester.
The 103,606-square-foot complex will have 83 units that have combinations of one-bedroom efficiencies and four- and six-bedroom suites. Each will have a small kitchen, living area and bathroom. The buildings will have elevators, lobbies, lounges, study rooms and laundry facilities. There also will be a single-story commons building that will include a computer lab, kitchen, staff offices, conference room and meeting hall. Each building will use Bhutanese-style architecture.
“This complex will be state-of-the-art with a robust wireless network. It will be a place where students will be proud to live. They will be spectacular inside and out,” said Gibbens, who added that the complex will offer a safe and secure environment.
Above the aesthetics, he said that numerous research studies have shown that college students who live on campus graduate at a higher rate and faster rate than those who do not. Some factors include positive peer pressure from neighbors and ready access to academic resources.
President Natalicio said the $23 million project was part of the University’s Campus Transformation plan that will help UTEP achieve its goal to become the first national research university with a Hispanic majority student demographic, which is important to the region’s success.
“We are announcing what I think is the most ambitious and most exciting student residence accommodations that the University has ever embarked on,” she said.
The University operates two housing complexes that accommodate 636 students, and maintains a waiting list of about 200 students. The Campus Master Plan projects the University will provide 1,440 beds by 2015. Additional phases will be built as needed.