Washburn University Names Residence Hall Architects

TOPEKA, Kan. — The Washburn University Board of Regents moved even closer to breaking ground on a new 350-bed student residence on June 11 when they approved the hiring of HTK Architects of Topeka and KwK Architects of St. Louis. The two firms are now tasked with preparing architectural drawings for a new student housing and dining facility to be built on the east side of campus.

Rick Anderson, Washburn University’s treasurer and vice president for administration, said in a release that work with the architecture firms will begin in the coming days, and that construction will be up for bid this December. The building is expected to cost approximately $30 million, and construction will likely begin by March 2015. Students are expected to move into the new facility in time for the fall 2016 semester.

According to Denise Ottinger, vice president for student life, the exact configuration of the new student housing facility has not yet been determined, and will depend on financial feasibility. However, Washburn administrators have said that the suite-style student rooms will share common living space as they do in two of the university’s existing residence halls.

The new dining facility will specifically seek to address the lunchtime bottleneck experienced at the existing Memorial Union, and meet the need for additional programming space and expanded late night dining options. Ottinger added in a release that the university hopes the new facility will become a post-game destination for the campus community.

Construction of the new housing and dining structure will also help address the university’s residence hall wait list, which it has maintained for the past four years.
According to Anderson, lack of housing is one reason the school loses prospective students to other colleges and universities.

"We don’t know how many students we lose because we don’t have housing," Anderson said in a statement. "But that does happen."

The momentum created by this and other building projects included in the university’s 10-year campus master plan are likely to have a positive impact on both enrollment and the Washburn community. Currently Washburn is conducting extensive renovations to the Welcome Center at Morgan Hall, which will soon serve as the university’s “front door.” The multimillion renovation will enable students conduct a number of admission, registration, advising and financial aid activities under one roof, and is expected to be completed in time for the school’s 2015 sesquicentennial celebration.

Meanwhile, Washburn has also partnered with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to construct a state-of-the-art forensic laboratory on campus. Upon completion the approximately $55 million, 100,000-square-foot facility will house the state’s crime lab, and allow the university to expand its biological, computer/digital and anthropological forensics course offerings.