“It's gorgeous,” the fourth-year sociology student said.
“The rooms are brand-new. Everything down to the furniture is just exquisite. The wood that they picked out for the coffee table is just beautiful. I don't even feel like I'm a student. I feel like I'm in a hotel or something like that. It is actually very, very nice. I'm very happy to live here.”
Hogan was on hand Aug. 30 as the new, $20-million residence, located across the road from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, was officially opened.
As a residence assistant, Hogan has a much bigger room than most other students living in the building, which caters to 236 third- and fourth-year students.
Everybody in the 12-storey residence has their own room, though. The building, which is already filled to capacity, features 62 self-contained apartments, each unit having three or four single bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a shared living room and kitchen.
The apartments are also wired for cable television, high-speed Internet and telephone service.
“It's so different from what people would think a university dorm would look like,” Hogan said. “It's just gorgeous. I've had parents say they would be comfortable living in the rooms. They're just so impressed with the quality of living for the students.”
She said she's also excited about the bistro-style restaurant opening soon on the floor below her room.
“It'll be really nice to have that on site, so students in this building are a little bit closer to it,” Hogan said. “It's such a different style of food other than the alternatives that we have in res.”
Work on the project, which was designed by local architects J.L. Richards and built by Sudbury-based construction firm TESC Contracting, began in November 2012 and was completed this past June. TESC is still working on the building's finishing touches and the landscaping.
Peter Faggioni, general manager with TESC, said everyone involved in the project gave a little extra effort because of Laurentian University's importance to the city.
“I'm an alumni of Laurentian University and born and raised here,” he said. “This project was very important to us from a personal level. We needed to put our stamp on it and give back to this wonderful institution called Laurentian.”
The building was designed with students' comfort in mind, Faggioni said.
“It had to be some place you can call home,” he said. “When the architects and design team got together, that was very, very important. There had to be large windows and just be bright. Everything was factored in to make that experience a very positive one.”
Residences at some older universities take a “dungeon kind of approach to residences, where you put in a bed and a chair and a desk, and life is good,” Faggioni said. “This is completely different.”
The new building also features a unique exterior design.
“It's like a big checkerboard,” he said. “It's a bunch of individual panels that are painted. When you look at it, it truly is like a checkerboard, but with about four or five different shades of grey ... It catches your eye from a distance.”
While some think the design “sticks out like a sore thumb,” the building's designers wanted to make it unique, Faggioni said.
“It just captures what Laurentian is all about,” he said. “The outside is very, very unique. Laurentian University is very unique in itself. I think it just captures the essence of what we're representing.”
Robert Kerr, Laurentian's vice-president and provost, said the new residence was needed partly because of the lack of reasonably priced rental off-campus rental accommodations in the city.
“I think it's been clear that with the two colleges and a university, there's a tremendous demand for space,” he said. “There will always be some who prefer to live off-campus, but the demand is so high that we know we can sustain this residence, and in the future we may well have to expand further.”
Laurentian took out a bank loan to finance the building's construction. The loan will gradually be paid off over the next 20 years using the rental fees paid by students, which this year are $6,000 per academic year.
Kerr said he's a big fan of the new residence building.
“I find it very open and airy,” he said. “It's a very welcoming place ... I personally really like the building. Compared to some of the places I lived as a student, this is really good.”
The new residence is the fifth on Laurentian's campus, bringing the number of housing units at the university to 1,600. The adjacent West Residence was opened in 2006.
Next year, the university will begin renovating its other residence buildings, starting with the Single Student Residence. That means up to one-third of the beds in Single Student Residence will be out of commission at once while renovations are underway, Kerr said.