Housing UT students since the 1960s, the residence halls of Presidential Court may be seeing their final years.
A recent proposal has called for their complete demolition.
Previously approved plans to demolish Shelbourne and construct a new residence hall at its former site have been expanded upon and now await approval.
If approved by the State Building Commission and the university's board of trustees, the $234 million project will modernize Presidential Court with six new residence halls and one new community and dining facility.
Dave Irwin, associate vice chancellor of Facilities Services, notes the new residence halls will be much different from anything currently on campus.
"They respond to what students have been requesting, including demands for more flexible, non-institutional, sustainable residential villages," Irwin said. "Renovating them would cost more than building new, and we would still be left with cold institutional high rises that do not provide what our students need, request and deserve."
The current dorms fail to meet current building codes and lack adequate electrical and internet systems. Built when sustainability wasn't as big of a concern, the standing residence halls will be replaced with much more efficient structures that meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver standards.
And aside from improvements in infrastructure, the redesigned Presidential Court is intended to foster a deeper sense of community among students.
The new community will be laid out in a interactive village, and high rise dorms will be replaced with three- and four-story facilities, Irwin said.
Presidential Court will have a more residential feel with better pedestrian connections to Pedestrian Walkway and Melrose Avenue. Within the residence halls, students will have more common areas and improved security. Less furniture will be included in bedrooms so that students may incorporate their own. The layout will be more conducive to living and learning communities which group students based on shared interests and majors.
Irwin said construction will begin in spring 2014 with Shelbourne Towers' demolition already scheduled. If the proposal gains approval, South Carrick, North Carrick, Humes, Reese, Morrill and the apartment residence halls will be demolished and replaced over the next five years. New residential halls may be operational as soon as 2016 with several others opening their doors by 2018.
To accommodate students living on campus, construction will occur in three phases. Once Fred Brown Residence Hall is completed, it will house 700 students. A new residence hall replacing Gibbs Hall is projected to open by 2016 and will house 700.
By the project's completion, UT hopes to have more than 7,600 beds. With its current 7,300 students living on campus, more beds will allow for future growth.
Despite the project's costliness, Irwin said students do not need to worry about any rise in tuition or housing costs. Housing and dining revenue will fund construction. New outdoor spaces such as courtyards and greenways will be funded by the student beautification fee.
If the project is approved, Presidential Court will look unrecognizable by 2019. The new facilities will align with the UT's goal to become a Top 25 research university, as improved residence halls will make UT more competitive with other institutions.
"Though the present dorms hold a lot of memories, it's time they were updated," said freshman business major Cole Bailey, a current resident at North Carrick. "It would do a lot to improve UT."