As the students come back to campus, some of the lucky ones will be moving into the UW’s newest residence facility, Poplar Hall. We had a chance to tour the hall this week, and chat with the people behind the transformation of student housing underway at the University of Washington.
A New Village for UW Students
The first thing you should know is that Poplar Hall is only the first stage in a years-long process to rebuild or refurbish all the student housing at the University. When finished, University Parkway will host a nexus of student housing, complete with a grocery store, restaurant, and gym. As new housing comes on line, older buildings will undergo complete overhauls, including upgrades to plumbing and heating, which will make the old residence halls more comfortable and sustainable. By 2015, the UW plans to have added at least 7,000 extra beds, which will go a long way towards easing congestion and overcrowding in the dorms. As the first of the new buildings to open, Poplar Hall gives a hint for what’s in store for students in the coming years.
A Sustainable Home for UW Students
Poplar Hall is a long way from the cinder-block-walled institutional housing you may remember from your college days. The rooms are spacious and bright and feature en-suite bathrooms. Study rooms and comfy lunges are on every floor. Large communal cooking and eating spaces, as well as meeting rooms and classrooms help make sure students will have plenty of places to work, meet, and play. And while UW Housing and Food Services is justifiably proud of the amenities on offer at Poplar Hall, they are also enthusiastic about the vision of environmental sustainability that is at the heart of of the building’s plan.
As host to the Sustainability Living/Learning Community, Poplar Hall will host a population of students interested in experiencing sustainable living firsthand: In the lobby of Poplar Hall, a computer screen monitors energy and resource usage; The building features a heat recovery system that makes the structure more efficient and minimizes heat loss; The UW is seeking LEED Gold certification for Poplar Hall, the first residence hall on campus to have that distinction; the building is designed to maximize natural sunlight, lowering the demand for heat and electric light.
The University of Washington is working hard to make sure the quality of its on-campus housing matches the quality of the education students receive. Check out pictures and a floor plan of a student double room here.