UVic announces plans for two new student residence buildings

Campus News

Prepare for a lot of cranes, jackhammers, and construction workers on campus over the next few years.

In the midst of the ongoing housing crisis—and a month after the B.C. provincial government pledged $450 million in government loans to help universities finance student housing projects—UVic has announced potential locations for two new student residences on campus.

The two proposed buildings, slated for construction at the “Ring Road” and the “Cadboro Commons” sites, are set to open sometime between 2022 and 2024.

Graphic via UVic

The new “Ring Road” residence, located just south of the Student Union Building, will require the demolition of the existing Emily Carr and Margaret Newton buildings. Of the two, this residence is scheduled to be built first, and will include a dining hall and servery on the main floor below the student residences on the upper floors.

As for the Cadboro Commons residence, plans indicate it will be in the same place as the current Cadboro Commons building but will include student residences on top of refurbished conference, meeting, and academic spaces on the main floor.

UVic says the two residences combined will be able to house at least 600 new students, considerably increasing the total from the 2 300 beds currently on campus.

The university sees these new projects as vital for undergraduate students in their transition to living away from home for the first time and adjusting to university life.

“Living on campus assists students with their transition to university, provides academic and social programming and support, and nurtures a strong sense of belonging in the UVic community,” UVic wrote in a media release.

These residences are part of UVic’s Campus Plan, which debuted in 2015 and was renewed in 2016. The Campus Plan aims to set up a decision-making process that will help guide the important choices university officials make regarding matters concerning campus.

Graphic by Nat Inez, Graphics Contributor

“The Campus Plan establishes a refreshed vision and set of directions that will guide decision-making on matters from buildings and transportation to open space and natural areas over the next ten years,” UVic writes on their Campus Planning and Sustainability page.

In 2017, UVic surveyed members of the community, students, and faculty through community open houses and campus ‘Pop Ups’ to get their opinion on the project.

Over 500 people took part in the survey, and the University took the results into consideration when providing options for the new buildings. Among students’ favoured building elements were a ‘hidden bed above workplace’ inside the dorm, covered outdoor seating outside the building, and the idea of a ‘pod’ living space.

UVic sees the pod system as a bigger space for students living in single rooms. In this plan, single room students will have access to a shared kitchen and larger living space.

More opportunities for students and community members to engage with the design process in this project will be available throughout 2018.

As for transportation and parking, which has been a thorn in the side of people who drive to campus for years, the university affirms the new buildings will not heighten parking issues. In fact, UVic believes the new residence buildings will decrease parking demand and traffic on campus.

“Students living on campus generate less parking demand than those students living in the community. As a result, daily commuting trips to and from campus will decrease and demand for parking on campus is also expected to decrease,” the press release reads.

Construction is set to start in 2022, and the new residence project is being led by Perkins + Will, who have worked with 300 universities and colleges in Canada and internationally over the past 30 years.

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