The Plan to Expand Mesa Court
The Mesa Court housing community will grow as a new structure will be built in the coming year to provide more housing and community facilities for freshmen living in Mesa. Plans are set to break ground this summer for the new buildings which will replace the area currently occupied by Mesa Commons and the Mesa Academic Center and Recreation Center.
In an effort to meet the increasing demand for housing from the growing freshmen population, the current Mesa Commons area will be replaced by three six story buildings with four floors of housing in each tower. The new complex is a step toward administration’s goal of providing housing for 50 percent of the student body. At this time, the university provides housing for approximately 46 percent of the student body.
University officials gave presentations at UC Regents meetings in November and January to go over plans for funding and construction of the new buildings. In the January meeting, the project calls for a $133.7 million budget plan, $123,757,000 to be funded from external financing and $10 million from housing reserves.
According to the regents meeting minutes in November, the campus fell 1,000 beds short of this goal the past fall and, given the campus’ enrollment growth, would fall short by 2,100 beds by the fall of 2016. However, this new structure in Mesa will provide up to 746 additional beds in Mesa. Currently, there are 1900 students living in Mesa Court. With the addition of these new rooms, Mesa could house approximately 2400 students.
Associate Vice Chancellor and Campus Architect Rebekah Gladson, who is overseeing the project was faced with the obstacle of making this project fit into the nature of Mesa Court.
“The challenge is how to go vertical and still keep community, because otherwise you just might go to a Marriot. So out of that came the challenge of how to breakdown the community in a way that supported students,” Gladson said.
Although the physical structure of these buildings is a departure from the current dorm houses in Mesa, the layout of each hall will be similar to the current dorm populations in Mesa. Gladson commented on the importance of creating a comfortable environment for Mesa residents despite the vertical structure of these facilities. The buildings will host 32-36 rooms per floor, with two floors making up each community and an approximate 1 to 70 ratio of Resident Advisors to students. Each room will be larger than the current rooms in Mesa, with roughly 240 square feet, enough to fit two or three beds comfortably. Each floor will have central common areas as well as nooks within the floors with couches, tables and whiteboards for studying. The structures are expected to have outdoor decks like some of the current Mesa halls and a color scheme to mix in with the Mesa landscape.
In addition to the new rooms, these structures will include a new dining commons, recreation center, fitness room, study center, computer lab, and a coffee house that is expected to be open late hours. The new commons will take a new approach to freshmen dining by placing an emphasis on fresh food and healthy eating. Students will be able to see their food cooked in front of them with exhibition stations where chefs will teach residents step by step how they prepared the meal. In addition to this learning approach to cooking, students will also have their choice of deli, vegan and vegetarian stations, and a stonefire pizza oven.
“We are trying to incorporate wellness and how to be healthy within the dining component,” Dan Dooros, associate vice chancellor of student affairs, auxiliary services, resource planning & housing, said. “When students leave us, we want them to have the skill sets to live a healthy life.”
As these new facilities are being built, students will have access to temporary dining facilities located in the lot 5 parking lot in Mesa Court. This temporary facility will serve both as a dining hall and study center after dining hours.
Though funding for the project is secure, the price rates for how much it would cost students to live in these new rooms is still in the works, it is unclear whether the residents of these new structures will pay more than the rest of Mesa students.
Construction for this project is expected to break ground this month and be completed in time for the new freshmen class in the fall of 2016.