SHERIDAN — When campus leadership began discussing the design and plan for a new residence hall at Sheridan College, they wanted to ensure the facility felt like home.
While many individuals interchange the words dorm and residence hall, a real difference exists between the two concepts, according to Larissa Bonnet, director of campus life and housing at SC.
“Traditionally, dorms are where people just sleep,” she said. “But a residence hall is where people live. It’s where they learn to live with others, learn communication skills, conflict management and time management.”
With those ideas in mind — and an eye toward student comfort — Whitney Centennial Hall at Sheridan College opened in November.
The dorm includes three floors with 100 beds and a staff apartment featuring two bedrooms and one bathroom. Work on the project began in the fall of 2018, and along with the building included a 160-space parking lot. The residence hall is equipped with one fully accessible room and has the ability to convert a second room to that standard, which exceeds Americans With Disabilities Act requirements.
The floor plan copies that of a similar hall built on the Gillette College campus a few years ago but includes a few improvements, SC Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management Kent Andersen said. For example, the Sheridan facility has higher ceilings and uses a cross-laminated timber panel system, a construction style fairly new to the region that allows for faster construction. In addition, the system serves as a sound barrier both between rooms on the same floor and between levels.
Bonnet said she and others discussed design ideas with students, who noted that a larger lobby area would allow for additional programs and activities. Students also played a role in choosing the furniture for the new facility. Each floor boasts a large common room with a fridge, microwave and lounging areas as well as a separate meeting room that could be set up for studying or gaming. Each floor also has washers and dryers available for students to use at the rate of just $30 per semester.
Whitney Benefits made the new $9.4 million residence hall possible, covering the cost of the facility. Andersen noted that Sheridan College and the community are lucky to have Whitney Benefits, as the organization has helped make the school an example of community college success in the state and beyond. On the Whitney Centennial Hall, Evolve Architecture, LLC, served as the architect and Dick Andersen Construction was the general contractor.
At the time the new residence hall project was announced in October 2018, the total number of beds on campus was 442. The additional beds will help meet the increasing demand for on-campus housing. Prior to the completion of Whitney Centennial Hall, the college regularly had more applicants for a room on campus than available beds.
As enrollment has trended upward, so has the demand for additional housing capacity.
Students have, since November, filled two of the three floors of rooms available. Bonnet said she expects the hall to be full by the time the fall semester begins. The additional capacity will allow SC to shift some of its resident students to the new space and work on two of its older dorms.
Andersen said two residence halls on campus were built in the 1960s. The new dorm will allow the older buildings to be shut down one at a time for renovations and updates.