First Look: OSU’s New North Residential District

Students moved into the first new buildings in OSU’s North Residential District in the fall of 2015. Construction of the remaining buildings – all located west of the High Street between Lane and Woodruff Avenues – continued until just before moving in last August. This semester, the first in which sophomores must live on campus, marks the first time the new neighborhood has been used to its full capacity.

OSU Associate Vice President of Student Life Molly Calhoun recently gave a tour of the new neighborhood at Columbus Underground, including new dorms, the new North Recreation Center, a host of event spaces and studies, and the two-story cafeteria, which seats 920 people and is larger than any restaurant in central Ohio.

Calhoun highlighted the importance of outdoor space to the project, including the long brick path leading from High Street in the west to the heart of the district, following the route of what was once West Frambes Avenue.

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The path ends at what has been dubbed Town Square, a large open space framed by the new three-storey leisure center and the new buildings Noskar House, Scott House and Blackburn House.

“Early in the planning process, we said, ‘think about spaces between buildings as much as you think about spaces within buildings,'” Calhoun said. “We have historically done a very good job with the interior programmatic space, but we wanted to emphasize the programmatic aspects that spill over into the green spaces.”

Space was created for the many large squares, courses and greens by demolishing a number of low-rise buildings. Twenty of the 22 large trees identified as “heritage trees” on the site have been saved and 225 new trees have been planted.

Pictures
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A rotating cast of student volunteers provided input early on in the planning process, which began in earnest in 2010.

“I tell new students that when you were in fifth grade, we were thinking about where you would live when you come to school,” Calhoun said.

Other highlights of the new district:

  • Each residential building contains common areas accessible to all students living in the dorms, with pool and ping pong tables, video game stations and party/event rooms.
  • Dining options include a made-to-order breakfast station (open all day), gluten-free options, a Mongolian grill, and cabins designed for large student groups.
  • The basketball courts located on Lane Avenue outside the new Recreation Center are now only accessible to students. They have also been designed so that they can be covered at some point in the future, with outdoor courts placed above the new building (this is in anticipation of Jessie Owens North, which currently contains indoor courts, possibly replaced by a university building).
  • The new trees planted in the district all have a trunk diameter of six inches or more, “so they’re substantial, and it wouldn’t take 60 years to have tree cover,” according to Calhoun.
  • In response to student feedback, all laundry rooms are designed to be open, well-lit spaces. They are located on the first floor of each residential building.
  • The new dorms all feature a similar layout, with two communities of 40 people on each floor (and one resident advisor for every 40 students). Rooms are mostly two-person suites with quarter baths, but larger suites at the end of each hallway — with full bathrooms and private living areas — are available for sophomores, juniors, and juniors. and fourth year.

CLICK HERE to see more photos of the OSU North Residential District.

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