Construction on new dorm to begin in November


Monica Kast

Construction on the newest dorm on campus, Hilltopper Hall, will begin in November, according to the Student Life Foundation.

Hilltopper Hall will be the first building of the 10-year Student Life Foundation Master Plan announced earlier this year. The plan will focus on creating more suite-style housing, similar to what is currently offered in McLean Hall or Bates-Runner Hall on campus, according to Brian Kuster, executive director of the WKU Student Life Foundation.

Kuster said the layout of the rooms will be similar to McLean or Bates, but the rooms will be slightly larger.

“This master plan is not about adding additional beds,” Kuster said. “What we’re really doing is taking buildings that are community bathrooms and moving those into private bathroom buildings to get more of what our students are wanting.”

Hilltopper Hall will be located in the Valley portion of campus. The L-shaped building will be six stories tall and include a dining area. Kuster said the dining area will be slightly larger than the one near Pearce-Ford Tower, and will be open to anyone on campus. The dining facilities will be accessible without having to enter the residence portion of Hilltopper Hall, according to Kuster.

“We’re thinking this will be open extended hours … being so close to the buildings in the valley, and Bates, McLean and Gatton Academy,” Kuster said of the dining facilities.

The dorm will be coed and open to upperclassmen students. Each room will have their own bathroom, and each floor will have a kitchen, common space and seating areas. Kuster described the dorm as being “more upscale” than the current dorms.

Kuster said that they will begin “core drilling” next week, checking to ensure that there are no caves or sinkholes in the area. They will begin laying the foundation in November, and plan on installing a new service drive near the dorm to avoid blocking traffic on College Heights Boulevard, according to housing plans provided by the Student Life Foundation.

“We know it’s going to be a tight construction site,” Kuster said. “We’ll have fencing around the construction site, and we want to keep it as tight as we can so we don’t interrupt the flow more than we have to.”

Kuster said there wouldn’t be “any kind of loud work” during finals week because construction will be near residential areas. Kuster also said they’re waiting until after Homecoming to begin construction, because the area is popular for tailgating.

Kit Tolbert, director of Housing and Residence Life, was contacted for comment but did not respond in time for publication.

At the Board of Regents meeting on June 24, President Gary Ransdell voiced his support of the new housing plan.

“Our housing has gone from being a recruitment factor to being a recruitment deterrent,” Ransdell said at the meeting. “That’s why it’s time for the next generation of housing.”

Construction is planned to be completed by May 2018, and occupied in August 2018. After Hilltopper Hall is completed, Barnes-Campbell Hall will be taken down, and a new dorm will be built to replace it as the next step in the Master Plan.

Reporter Monica Kast can be reached at 270-745-6011 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @monicakastwku.