KINGSTON — The University of Rhode Island celebrated the grand opening of a new residence hall on Monday, featuring modern-day amenities and dynamic community designs.
Brookside Hall, a 500-bed, 203,000 square-foot residence hall, has been filled with landscaped sitting areas, apartment units with full kitchens and living rooms, and even a cafe open to the entire community.
Smart technology in the laundry room can notify students when their loads are finished, and a bike path steps from the front door can connect them to Wakefield, Peace Dale and Narragansett thanks to the URI Bike Path Spur, which opened in November. The new, state-of-the-art dorm is the first residence hall to open in nearly eight years, the last being Hillside Hall which opened in 2012.
“We celebrate the opening of a residence hall that substantially builds on our efforts to create dynamic neighborhoods on our Kingston Campus and gives students access to the latest technology, functional and comfortable living and learning spaces and our first dining facility within a residence hall,” said President David M. Dooley.
“We know that students who are engaged in campus activities feel connected to each other and those who take advantage of our outstanding facilities do better academically, socially, and eventually, professionally,” he added. “We expect this outstanding new residence hall to have a positive effect on all of these critical areas for student development and University community building.”
The upperclassmen dorm, designed for juniors and seniors, features 122 students apartments, the majority of which are four- and six-bedroom units. Individual bedrooms are furnished with a full-size, lofted bed, three-drawer dresser, wardrobe, mirror, desk and a two-position chair. Common spaces, like the kitchen and living room, are furnished with a dining room table, couches, chairs and a coffee table.
“Brookside Hall is the latest step in our efforts to build a more robust and vital residential community,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Kathy Collins. “The beautiful interior spaces are filled with natural light and provide students with wonderful views of our campus, including our newly refurbished Meade Stadium. You can almost sense the excitement of future football game days and intramural championships as hundreds of parents and students walk through the area with music blasting from the stadium.”
“Our new bike path will encourage fitness, fun, and sustainability for everyone, and our new 48-seat Brookside Bistro and 120-seat function room will be available to the community for conferences and other events,” she added.
The eagerly anticipated bistro, set to open in about a week, will be the hit of the building, according to Michael Leone, a third-year pharmacy student who serves as one of several resident assistants in the new dorm.
Amenities like this, when students are busy studying and going to classes, are going to be extremely convenient, he said. On days they don’t want to cook, students can walk downstairs, grab something “and heat it up in their own kitchen.”
The study lounges found on every level of their building also help to create a sense of community, Leone said, which is often missing in upperclassmen dorms.
“With these study lounges, I tend to see that residents are much more willing to socialize with each other, “ he said.
The community living design of the building was very much intentional, according to Frankie Minor, director of Housing and Residential Life. The students that moved into the residential hall at the beginning of the semester have raved about living there, he said.
Student Senate President Nicholas S. Marotta, a senior studying landscape architecture and community planning, deeply appreciates the project’s sustainable design.
“In our field, the concept of sustainable design seems to be the only way forward for our world, which is facing an existential threat from climate change,” he said. “But buildings like Brookside, designed with the integrity of Sasaki Associates, and built with the quality of companies like Bacon Construction, there are hopes for our students and hopes for the future of our planet.”
He thanked all those involved with the design of the residence hall who kept the future of students in mind.
The $94 million project was financed with revenue bonds supported by a combination of Department of Housing and Residential Life revenues, for the building and associated amenities, and University general revenues, for site and infrastructure work.