New residence hall approved with reservations - Purdue Exponent: Campus

New residence hall approved with reservations

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Posted: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 10:00 am

Before finance and construction of a new dorm was approved by the Board of Trustees on Tuesday, a trustee expressed concern about the building's cost.

The physical facilities committee presented the cost of the residence hall, temporarily named Vawter Field, at an estimated $39.9 million.

Factoring in utility costs, this number is $1.9 million more than the physical facilities department's proposal to the board in April.

Trustee Bruce White said at the Physical Facilities Committee Monday meeting he's noticed that Purdue seems to be constructing an increasing number of buildings in which the cost of the building per square foot has been doubling or tripling over time.

The residence hall's estimated 128,400 gross square feet puts the project's cost at $310.75 per square foot.

"As a member of the committee there may or may not be reasons, but that (figure) just jumps out at me," White said.

However, Vawter Field's project manager, Rosa Ledezma, said the cost is consistent with the many other projects of this caliber her department has completed in the past.

Although she does not doubt White's experience in higher education, she thinks his comment may have been based off construction experience in the private sector.

"The estimated cost per square foot is in keeping with what we've seen in the University, which may differ from the private sector," Ledezma said. "Given his experience, it might be different from what we see."

Vawter Field's $39.9 million is just one of President France Cordova's 23 construction initiatives. Of the 23 initiatives, 22 are unfinished and fit into one of three stages: concept, planning or under construction.

The cost of these working initiatives adds up to a grand total of $649.7 million dollar's worth of construction and repair projects Purdue students could see completed within the next few years.

Ledezma said as buildings for higher education are generally built to last longer than the private sector, the higher quality of materials drives those costs up. She said one example of this is at the Purdue Memorial Union, which has terrazzo floors as opposed to vinyl tile.

"We know it costs more at the University because we expect the buildings to have a very long life," Ledezma said.

The residence hall at Vawter Field will be located between Windsor Hall and Wiley Hall and will hold 300 beds as well as a small, open-late cafe. Although it won't exclude lower classmen from living there, the hall will be tailored to upper-division students.

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