First Look: OSU’s New North Residential District
Students moved into the first new buildings in OSU’s North Residential District in the fall of 2015. Construction of the remaining buildings – all located west of High Street, between Lane and Woodruff avenues – continued until right before move-in this past August. This semester, the first in which sophomores are required to live on campus, marks the first time that the new district is being used to its full capacity.
OSU Associate Vice President of Student Life Molly Calhoun recently gave Columbus Underground a tour of the new district, including the new dorms, the new North Recreation Center, a multitude of event and study spaces, and the two-story cafeteria, which seats 920 and is larger than any restaurant in Central Ohio.
Calhoun emphasized the importance of outdoor space to the project, including the long brick pathway leading from High Street west through the heart of the district, following the route of what used to be West Frambes Avenue.
The path ends at what has been dubbed Town Square, a large open space framed by the new, three-story recreation center and the new buildings Noskar House, Scott House and Blackburn House.
“Early on in the planning process, we said, ‘think about the spaces between the buildings as much as you’re thinking about the spaces in the buildings,'” said Calhoun. “We’ve historically done a really good job relative to indoor programming space, but we wanted to emphasize the programmatic aspects spilling out into the green spaces.”
Room was created for the many large plazas, courtyards and greens by tearing down a number of low-rise buildings. Twenty of 22 large trees identified as “heritage trees” on the site were able to be saved, and 225 new trees were planted.
A rotating cast of student volunteers provided input from the very beginning of the planning process, which started in earnest in 2010.
“I tell the incoming students, when you guys were in the fifth grade we were thinking about where you would be living when you came to school,” said Calhoun.
Other highlights of the new district:
- Each residential building contains common areas accessible to all students living in the dorms, complete with billiard and ping pong tables, video game stations, and party/event rooms.
- Dining options include a made-to-order breakfast station (open all day), gluten-free options, a Mongolian grill, and booths designed for large groups of students.
- The basketball courts located on Lane Avenue outside of the new recreation center are now only accessible to students. They’ve also been designed so that they can be covered at some point in the future, with outdoor courts placed on top of the new building (that’s in anticipation of Jessie Owens North, which currently contains indoor courts, eventually being replaced with an academic building).
- The new trees planted in the district all have a trunk diameter of six inches or more, “so that they are substantial, and it wouldn’t be 60 years until you had a tree canopy,” according to Calhoun.
- In response to student input, all laundry rooms are designed to be open, well-lit spaces. They are located on the first floor of each residential building.
- The new dorm buildings all feature a similar layout, with two, 40-person communities on each floor (and one Resident Advisor for every 40 students). The rooms are mostly two-person suites with quarter-baths, but larger suites at the end of each hall – with full bathrooms and private living areas – are available for second-, third-, and fourth-year students.