A new era began Friday at the University of Kentucky – an era in which an unprecedented public-private partnership resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in high-tech living and learning spaces that will bolster student success throughout the institution.
Before scores of students, faculty, staff and visitors, Kentucky’s governor, Lexington’s mayor and UK’s president, among other dignitaries, Friday cut the ribbon to the doors of the $25.8 million, 172,064 square-foot Central Hall I and II, UK’s newest residence halls. On Aug. 21, 601 students, faculty and staff associated with the UK Honors Program will take up residence in one of the most modern university living communities in America.
"We gather today to commemorate the first of many new villages at UK created by a village of innovators, risk takers and dreamers who sought a new way to build," said UK President Eli Capilouto. "Not just the most modern place for people to live, but the most modern places for them to learn ― to learn with each other, from each other, and from the best scholars."
While replete with modern living spaces, academic planning was a primary focus in the new facilities and those being constructed in the future.
Highlights of the new residence halls include:
• Each four-person suite in Central Hall I and II ― as well as additional UK student housing planned and under construction by EdR ― will be furnished with Tempur-Pedic mattresses thanks to a collaboration between Tempur Sealy International, Inc., EdR, the nation’s leading owner, developer and manager of collegiate housing, and UK.
• All Central Hall rooms are equipped with a microwave-fridge combination unit, generous storage areas, high-tech study areas and other amenities.
• The facility features generous community living, study and classroom areas, including 16 active learning/meeting spaces.
• A communal kitchen capable of catering up to 100 guests and high-tech laundry facilities are located in each building.
• Three classrooms will be decorated with furniture on casters, allowing the switch from instructional classroom to open collaborative co-curricular programming space in just three minutes.
• Student living and learning will be enriched with works by Kentucky artists in the lobbies, as well as an inner courtyard with an outdoor amphitheater wired for lights and sound for dramatic productions and concerts.
• A cupola towering over all is equipped with UK blue lighting that will shine on special occasions.
• The twin residence halls showcase supportive technology for modern student living, including Ethernet and wireless connection and satellite connection throughout.
• One feature has particularly impressed parents and students alike ― laundry facilities that will alert students to machine availability and status of their wash load via their computer or cell phone. (No more trying to study in a noisy laundry room for fear of leaving clothes unattended!)
"These new residence halls speak to the dedication this university has shown and will continue to show towards fulfilling the Kentucky promise,” said Roshan Palli, UK Student Government president. “The students, staff, faculty, and administration of UK have all bought into the idea of see blue ― that it is more than image or rhetoric, but a culture of change and progress for the betterment of our Commonwealth."
Central Hall I and II, and future residence halls, are targeted to meet stringent Silver LEED standards with geothermal heating and cooling technology and featuring an overabundance of bike racks to encourage sustainable living.
Rejoicing in this new era of housing at UK is not limited to students. Local and state economies have been strengthened due to the unprecedented frenzy on several construction sites on campus.
“This is one of the best times of the year to be in our growing university city, with UK students coming back and fall activities kicking into gear,” Mayor Jim Gray said. “There’s some extra excitement this year for students who will be moving into these new dorms in a few days. We’re ready for the city’s pulse to get quite a bit quicker … welcome students. We’re glad you’re here.”
Central Hall I and II alone employed 430 direct employees and 292 indirect workers, 75 percent of whom are Kentucky residents, with 12 percent representing ethnic or minority groups.
The twin residence halls represent $15.5 million (74 percent) in Kentucky expenditures and $5.3 million in out of state expenditures. Kentucky sales tax revenue is projected to total $399,943.
The total new housing construction project is estimated at $133.7 million with 2,328 direct workers, 1,580 indirect workers and projected Kentucky sales tax revenues totaling $2.24 million.
While the total project’s goal was to include 10 percent of its contracts awarded to subcontractors/suppliers from women-owned and minority-owned businesses, currently 15.46 percent of awarded contracts are already committed to businesses owned by minorities or women.