New Construction

Here's a Transformative Trend in America that Must Not Be Overlooked

Currently, America’s 175 largest universities offer on-campus housing to only 21.5% of their undergraduate students. Moreover, the typical off-campus bed-to-total enrollment ratio stands at around 16.9%. That’s far below what is needed, and that is about to change. U.S. universities and colleges are expected to increase their student housing capacity by approximately 47,000 beds over the next several years.

Ventura College, a public community college in California, will build housing for 320 students on an undeveloped piece of land near the football stadium and tennis courts. The project’s cost is estimated at $90 million. The building will include 95 apartment-style units, each with two to four bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. The dorm rooms will be awarded to students without the financial ability to rent in Ventura. The project is expected to break ground in 2024 and be completed in time for the 2025-26 school year. According to the California Community Colleges System, the state’s on-campus housing in the community college system is scarce. Only 12 of the state’s 116 campuses provide housing.

Officials at Kennesaw State University in Georgia recently launched a planning phase for a student housing project with a projected cost of approximately $50 million. It will include student housing units with designated study areas, space for community programs and dining facilities. Another resident facility was completed on this campus just last year because the university is experiencing high student enrollment.

While planning to provide more housing options, higher education institutions also focus on designing affordable and convenient student housing. Colleges and universities without adequate, attractive and convenient student housing options are far less competitive when enrollment decisions are made. However, housing needs are not the only motivation for many construction projects on educational campuses in America. Other projects are being launched to entice and enrich campus life for college-bound students.

Student enrollment is increasing, prompting the need for upgraded and new facilities to attract future students. Educational resources and infrastructure improvements in all areas are planned. By 2024, construction projects for expanded medical facilities, innovative classroom space, larger sports stadiums, research laboratories and specialized training facilities will be underway.

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln is Nebraska’s flagship public research university. Recent announcements have confirmed plans to renovate the university’s Memorial Stadium for an estimated cost of $450 million. The Board of Regents approved the initiative just this week, and solicitation documents are expected to be released in early 2024. The new stadium will feature a 360-degree main-level concourse and a 270-degree upper-level concourse. The South Plaza will be redeveloped as a new gateway and entrance area, and all four sides of the stadium will be renovated. Seating will be enhanced, and concessions areas and bathrooms will be upgraded. To streamline “game day” activities, construction will also include facility upgrades, including a new loading dock area and upgraded modes of vertical transportation.

The University of South Florida will also construct a football stadium with a smaller cost projection of $340 million. The project is in its design phase, and construction is planned for 2024. The stadium will be designed to accommodate football, lacrosse, intramural sports and graduation services. Additionally, the university’s Lee Roy Selmon Center will be converted into a modern workplace and hub for all athletic programs.

The University of Cincinnati will soon launch a project to replace Crosley Tower, a facility constructed in 1969, with a new research and academic facility. The project’s cost has been estimated at $240 million. The project is in its planning phase, but the university has released an RFQ for an architect and engineer to begin the design work. The 16-story Crosley Tower currently houses the university’s biology and chemistry laboratories. As work begins, the project will be divided into three phases. The first phase will include removing hazardous materials from the site, and the second will involve demolition of the original building. The third phase will consist of the construction of the new tower. The facility will be designed for staff, educational amenities, experimental research labs, classrooms and student collaboration areas.

Board members at Ohio University have approved a renewal strategy for the school’s College of Fine Arts. The reimagined initiative will cost approximately $94.2 million and deliver a new Patton Arts Center. It will house a 400-seat multi-purpose theater with capabilities for a diverse range of performances, including theater and music concerts, dance performances and film screenings. Additionally, an innovative performance and rehearsal space will seamlessly connect with the outdoors, offering unique indoor and outdoor performance possibilities. The center’s entrance will offer a grand lobby with space for showcasing student artwork. The institution’s Siegfried Hall will be renovated to become a versatile multi-use space. The objective is to invigorate the College of Fine Arts, revitalizing its physical facilities and aligning with the university’s broader mission of meeting the needs of a growing student community.

The University of Middle Tennessee will be relocating its aviation campus to Shelbyville Airport, an effort that has been tagged with a cost projection of $62.2 million. The project is currently being designed, with construction and renovation scheduled for 2024. The construction will also involve building campus facilities and revising some of the existing ones. Workers will improve drainage areas and inlets, relocate utilities, add pedestrian-friendly amenities, develop landscaped areas and construct sidewalks and walkable hardscapes. Driving spaces and parking areas will be expanded along with taxiways and access roads near the airport. When site revisions are completed, construction will begin on educational and administrative rooms for the new campus. Ten classrooms will have multiple digital display capabilities. The aviation faculty will gain 60 office spaces, hangar and lab areas for students, conference and meeting rooms, IT and utility infrastructure spaces and administrative offices.

Not only is it remarkable to see the numerous projects planned for America’s colleges and universities, but it is comforting to realize the economic stimulus that will result regionally across the U.S.

About the Author

Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S. Her recently released book, Inside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America, is a handbook for contractors, investors, and the public at large seeking to explore how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.