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$20M LU residence addresses high demand for space

The need for more student housing is driving the construction of a new 236-bed residence building at Laurentian University.
A new, $20-million, 236-bed residence is set to open on Laurentian University's campus this September. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.
The need for more student housing is driving the construction of a new 236-bed residence building at Laurentian University.

The $20-million structure, designed and constructed by the local firm Tesc Integrated Construction Services, is being built on University Road, across the street from the medical school.

With a steel facade made up of blocks of various shades of grey, the building has a unique look.

“Some people love it, some people hate it,” Carol McAulay, vice-president of administration at Laurentian, said.

“It's different. It's sort of fun ... I've heard it called camouflage. I've heard all sorts of different words to describe it.”

The university took out a loan to finance the building's construction, which it will pay off using funds from rent paid by students, she said.

The new residence building, which already has a full complement of future tenants, will open in time for the new school year this September, she said. It's open to third- and fourth-year students.

“It was built in response to the fact that we had more students that applied to be in residence than we were able to accommodate in the past, by as many as 150 or 200 students,” she said.

Laurentian is unique in that many students wish to remain in residence for the four years it takes for them to complete their degrees, McAulay said.

Perhaps that's because the university is in an area which doesn't have a lot of off-campus student housing, and it's more convenient for them to live on-campus, she said.

A lack of rental housing is also probably a contributing factor, McAulay said, although she said she's been encouraged by a recent upswing in landlords offering up downtown student housing.

Perhaps that has something to do with the Northern Ontario School of Architecture, which is set to open in the downtown in September 2013.

The new residence features suites with bedrooms for four students, along with a shared living space and kitchen. It also has plenty of meeting rooms and lounges, and a bistro-style restaurant.

The building will be connected to two of the university's other residence buildings, which are located on the same road.

In fact, students will be able to walk most of the way to the Parker Building without going outside, McAulay said.

She said she's already had a tour of the new building, and she likes what she sees. The building is attractive and comfortable, she said.

“I think it's pretty exciting,” McAulay said. “We're just in the process of ordering the furniture. We plan to be moving everything in over the

Posted by Arron Pickard