Campus: Northridge -- October 5, 2007

New Northridge Residence Halls to Give Students ‘Complete College Experience’

With more than 400 names on a waiting list for spots in campus student housing, Cal State Northridge officials have announced plans to break ground early next year on a $30.1 million housing complex to meet some of the demand.

The complex, funded by student housing rents, is scheduled to be built on a 2.8-acre site between CSUN’s main housing for single students, University Park Apartments—located south of Lassen Street between Lindley and Zelzah Avenues—and the university’s outdoor track. The groundbreaking is scheduled for January 2008.

When completed, two buildings will provide living space for 396 students beginning in fall 2009. A third building—a nearly 6,000 square foot "common program" building—will include a recreation room, classroom, multi-purpose room, storage space, office and a reception and security desk, from which all students and guests will be visible when they enter or leave. Tall walls with gates that will be locked at night also will enhance student safety, and the parking needs of complex residents will be met by maximizing use of a parking structure west of Zelzah, south of Lassen.

The project represents phase one of an expansion outlined in the 2005 campus master plan. Its four phases will make room for an additional 2,000 students, nearly doubling the current capacity, excluding housing for students with families, said Tim Trevan, director of student housing and conference services.

"Student housing is important because it provides students with the complete college experience," said Trevan, who sat on the master plan committee. "Students who live on campus report knowing their faculty better, knowing other students better, using university resources more thoroughly—for example the library, the computer labs, tutoring—and they are more involved in activities" than students who commute.

The new housing will not be identical to the University Park Apartments, which has 15 buildings, houses 2,400 students and was built between 1987 and 1991

Instead of containing stand-alone apartments, the new CSUN residence halls will be divided into clusters of 32 students, who will live two to a bedroom with shared living/meeting rooms, study rooms and semi-private bathrooms. Unlike traditional dormitories with rooms lining long corridors, CSUN’s smaller-scaled student housing will encourage a greater sense of community.

"We really want to create small pods of students to encourage them not to be overwhelmed and actually get to know each other on a deeper level," the housing director said. Kitchens will not be included; students will be required to take a meal plan, increasing their involvement in the CSUN community.

Trevan said the cluster housing—suggested by architect AC Martin Partners, Inc. and based on a similar style at Babson College near Boston—specifically addresses the developmental needs of first-year students, the segment of the enrollment that benefits most from living on campus.

"It’s a chance to get to know people and meet new friends of different backgrounds," said freshman Alex Harris , 18, of Harbor City. Harris lives in the University Park Apartments, where two-bedroom units for four roommates cost $5,413 per academic year with a kitchen, and $4,336 without. "You get to know about their language, what kind of food they eat, how they live…You teach them your differences. They teach you their differences. We get along with each other."

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