Construction on Hilltopper Hall continues, scheduled to be completed in time for fall 2018 semester

Hilltopper Hall, located in The Valley, started construction on Feb. 1, 2017. The construction manager on site estimates that they will start moving furniture into the new dorm around June 1, 2018, and are aiming for occupancy by August.

Morgan Price

Construction on Hilltopper Hall, WKU’s newest dorm, is estimated to finish in time for the start of the 2018-2019 school year.

Hilltopper Hall is located in the Valley next to Rodes-Harlin Hall and the Kentucky Museum. The construction is part of the 10-year housing plan to renovate and construct new dorms. The ongoing construction of the dorm, which began fall 2016, has bothered some students who are also sad to see the dorm overtake the Valley.

“The Valley had an old-school college vibe,” said Hallie Pennington, 21, who lived in Rodes her freshman year. “My favorite thing to do in the spring was to lay out a blanket and study underneath the trees.”

The $40.9 million L-shaped building will include 400 beds, a dining hall open to the public and a game lounge, according to the Housing and Residence Life webpage. The rooms will be suite-style with a private bathroom. Each occupant will have a dresser, bed and desk. Each floor will include an enclosed study room, a common room and a kitchen area. There will be several patios outside the building, as well as new sidewalk connections.

The hall has been under construction for over a year which has frustrated some students.

“It is frustrating because now I have to walk completely around instead of just straight through,” said Anna Wells, 18, who has lived in the Valley for two years. “I’m also sad that the tailgating got moved because I think that was a really cool place to have it.”

Before construction on Hilltopper Hall began, students tailgated in the Valley before football games. Now that Hilltopper Hall has taken over the Valley, students have moved the tailgate area in front of Zacharias Hall.

The decision to update WKU’s on-campus housing came after a series of surveys, interviews and focus groups, according to the HRL webpage. Despite the year-round construction, some students think building Hilltopper Hall was the right decision.

“I think it is a good addition,” said Grace Knox, 20, who lived in Gilbert Hall her freshman year. “It’s just a random location, but I guess it’s the only place they had room for it.”

Hilltopper Hall is just the beginning of WKU’s 10-year plan to renovate on-campus living. The plan includes tearing down Barnes-Campbell Hall in 2018 and Bemis-Lawrence Hall in 2019, according to the HRL webpage. There are also plans to add a 200-bed annex to Bates-Runner Hall in 2024 and to convert McCormack Hall into semi-suite style rooms. The recent renovations on Southwest and Northeast halls were also part of the plan. Both halls had their lobbies renovated and community rooms added.

Hall directors from all three dorms located in the Valley were contacted but did not provide comments. The Herald reached out to Mike Reagle, assistant vice president for student affairs and director of housing and dining, but he did not respond in time for publication.

A virtual tour of Hilltopper Hall and project photos are available on the HRL webpage.

News reporter Morgan Price can be reached at 270-745-6011 and morgan.price3[email protected]