A local university is embarking on its first student housing project since the 1960s.
Virginia Union University will soon break ground on the Living Learning Center, a 68,000-square-foot residence hall and student/community center. The project will cost between $13 million and $15 million, and construction is set to begin in early December.
The center will be the first new building on the VUU campus in 15 years and the first new dormitory in almost 50 years. It is expected to open to the students and the public by 2014.
VUU President Claude Perkins said the university recognized the need for additional space about a year ago. Over the past four years, enrollment at Virginia Union has increased by 16 percent, bringing the number of students to about 1,300.
“We’ve reduced our upfront costs and increased our scholarships and marketing efforts,” Perkins said. “It’s helped us bring in more students from Virginia and other parts of the East Coast.”
Right now, the university has room for 760 students to live on campus. All of the rooms are full, and Perkins said the university had to lease 28 apartments off campus to keep up with demand.
“We prefer students to be on campus, especially their freshman and sophomore years, to enrich their experience at the university,” Perkins said.
The new building, which will sit on campus where basketball courts currently stand, will house 240 additional students, as well as an auditorium and several conference rooms. The learning center space can be used for workshops, business meetings or as an artistic venue, Perkins said.
“We see this new building as a place for people in North Richmond to use as a community space,” he said. “To my knowledge, there’s not another building like that in the area.”
Virginia Union will finance part of the construction costs through grants from the U.S. Department of Education and the rest through a public fundraising campaign.
Three organizations ?- the Cabell Foundation, the Reynolds Foundation and the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation -? have pledged $3.4 million to support the project. Perkins said the university would start soliciting donations next month from alumni and other community members.
Virginia Union hasn’t started accepting bids from construction companies for the project yet, but local architecture firm KEI designed the building.
The VUU campus opened in 1899, and six of the nine original buildings are still standing. Perkins said it was important that the new center had the same feel as the rest of the campus.
“The new building will take on the characteristics of the old Romanesque architecture, but with a modern flair,” Perkins said.
What an ugly building
If you don’t have something positive to say, no need to say anything!
What an ugly comment!
I am a current student at VUU and i think its a wonderful investment to the university.
Lori, I’m sorry to say I agree with Charles. But perhaps we could say “aesthetically unappealing.” Certainly, different folks may have different opinions. But I don’t think there is anything wrong with expressing those opinions.
As a class of 2004 graduate, I am thrilled to see the university has decided to do this. The building’s design will replicate the look and feel of the other buildings on campus, which makes total sense to me. Congrats to my alma mater!
Don’t hate- appreciate. This is a positive for VUU and our entire community.
I am a current student at Virginia Union and this building is well needed and the main individuals speaking negatively are going to be the main ones in the building !
Great venture: My prayers go out to Virginia Union. A school with a vision to help the community. This building is long overdue. Congrats to the President and the financial supporters!
I’m a current student at Virginia Union University and I am excited about the new building. I can only hope that everyone treats this new addition we great respect. I’m Marquis Johnson Mr. Freshman 2012 2013 and I have spoken!
I am 1973 graduate of VUU. I commend the administration on this new venture. As I read the article, I became quite excited for my alma mater’s growth. It will be a great addition for the university and the northside community.
I love my alma mater. This is a long awaited blessing for the university. It is the first tangible sign of growth in far too long. There have been students that could have (or should have) been on campus living in apartments (some not safe or appealing) since I was there. The majority of my on campus experience was great and I’m glad more students will have the opportunity to experience that. Dear Union…I still love thee..class of ’01
Still soooooooooooooo proud to be a panther! Along awaited…I almost want to come back. LOL!
I support Virginia Union. I’m glad they are building a new building. I just wish it weren’t an ugly one.
C’mon, the school deserves better.
And for those who say “if you don’t have anything positive to say, please don’t say anything” I say, please grow up. Adulthood is a good thing
Looking at the architecture, I’m still trying to figure out what is so ugly about the building.
I personally like it. What should it look more like Storer hall? Then would you be happy?