News Date: 
Sunday, February 29, 2004

Source: Athens Banner-Herald

New Buildings to Add Housing, Eating Facilities

By Ross Markman

The Athens Banner-Herald

February 29, 2004

The Village Summit, as it's being called, smells like shop class.

In a matter of months, that scent - scorched metal, wood shavings and paint - will be supplanted by the aromas of grilled chicken, fresh-baked bread and beans of the day.

The summit is the second floor of two in the University of Georgia's latest on-campus eatery - a facility that more closely resembles the new, 276,000-square-foot Student Learning Center than the 60-year-old Snelling Dining Hall.

UGA officials tout the 52,000-square-foot dining hall, dubbed the Joe Frank Harris Commons, as the centerpiece of the university's most recent effort to keep kids on campus - the East Campus Village.

Spread throughout four dorms, a total of 1,221 beds will be ready to house students this fall - a total of 510,000 square feet of fully furnished living space in mostly four- and two-bedroom units. A few single-occupant units are available.

The dwellings are outfitted with beds, sofas, desks and even a TV stand. Kitchens are equipped with full-size refrigerators and a microwave, but no oven or stove. That's where the new dining hall comes into play.

"This represents ideas we've had for years," Danny Sniff, UGA's architect, said last week while touring the under-construction village. "The plan is to offer different options to people, and to do our best to keep them living on campus."

Students in February started applying to live in the apartment-style housing. Priority goes to those who've lived on campus the longest, Sniff said.

"We don't want to compete with the private sector. As we know, there comes a point in everybody's life where they want to be on their own," he said. "But we want to stop the sprawl mentality."

The $102 million project represents the second large-scale endeavor funded by the UGA Real Estate Foundation, a non-profit arm of the UGA Foundation, which raises money to support the state's flagship institution. The first project, a new Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, opened in October and was dedicated earlier this month.

The design of the first housing built on UGA's campus since 1967 was the work of UGA architects, students and President Michael Adams, who Sniff said deserves the credit for the university's 1997 master plan.

The brick buildings keep with campus aesthetics and maintain a collegial feel, Sniff said.

And there are also features like the octagonal room on the dining hall's second floor, a room enveloped by windows and topped with an exposed-wood beam ceiling.

The goal, campus architects say, was to mimic characteristics of North Campus and to develop a village-like setting within walking distance of the Ramsey Center workout facilities and a dining hall.

"Imagine a deli here and further down a place where you can get coffee or a Danish," Sniff said, walking through an empty room that by mid-summer will be the open-for-business Red Clay Café.

Upstairs, at the Summit, won't open until fall. When it does, UGA food services director Michael Floyd said, patrons can expect something new, including made-to-order smoothies and personal pizzas.

They also can expect higher prices - at all four campus dining halls.

The meal plan - now $2,394 a year for a seven-day plan - is swelling by $100 to help pay for the new buildings.

"It's going to give our customers a fourth restaurant and more flexibility in eating on campus," Floyd said. "And because of its location, students are going to want to eat there."

And, officials hope, they're going to crave living in the new dorms as well. Prices there are higher than UGA's older dorms, Sniff said, but the cost will include utilities, high-speed Internet access and furnishings.

The other selling point is convenience, Sniff added. In addition to the Ramsey Center and dining hall, the dorms offers easy access to what ultimately will be a state-funded, $39 million Lamar Dodd School of Art on East Campus - a facility that's fourth on the priority list of the state University System Board of Regents' projects.

The art school will be built on what now is an East Campus parking lot, directly across the street from the Georgia Museum of Art.

And that's not it for UGA construction. Architects say the 11 million-square-foot campus will double in size within 20 years. Sniff said he foresees another 300 beds added to the East Campus Village in anywhere from one to three new dorms.

Elsewhere on campus, ground was broken last year for the Paul D. Coverdell Building for Biomedical and Health Sciences, a $41 million facility located near the 2001-built Carlton Street parking deck. And work is under way on a four-year, $4 million overhaul of D.W. Brooks Drive, converting the South Campus street into a pedestrian mall - another effort to mimic North Campus.