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Construction projects aim for four-year UCLA on-campus housing guarantee

By Anaika Miller

June 10, 2013 12:00 a.m.

While living in Rieber Hall last year, Usman Azam became familiar with the sound of construction. As a night owl and late riser, Azam said he was often awoken by the early-morning construction on nearby Sproul buildings.

The construction and renovation are part of a series of projects that have transformed the Hill in the last few years.

The Northwest Housing Infill Project included the addition of several new dorm buildings. The project aims to provide guaranteed housing for four years for incoming freshmen and two years for transfer students, said Suzanne Seplow, executive director of the Office of Residential Life. The university currently guarantees housing for three years to first-year students.

Jonathan Solichin / Daily Bruin

Planning for the Infill project began in 2008 and two new buildings in De Neve Plaza – Holly Ridge and Gardenia Way – opened last year, adding 408 dorm rooms to the UCLA campus, Seplow said.

The project was originally expected to cost $248 million, but has actually cost $230 million, said Barbara Wilson, associate director of rooms operations for UCLA Housing and Hospitality Services.

A 2 percent increase in the cost of living on the Hill next year will go toward funding the project, among other things, she said.

The construction of two new Sproul buildings – Sproul Cove and Sproul Landing– is also part of the project. Wilson said the new buildings will add 361 bedrooms. They are set to open early in the summer to host conferences and will open for students in the fall.

Additionally, a new commons building, called Sproul Presidio, will open mid-summer. It will hold a dining hall, fitness center and 450-person multi-purpose room.

Now that the Infill project is almost complete, Housing is preparing to renovate Canyon Point, Delta Terrace and Hitch Suites starting this month, said Wilson.

The renovation of Hitch Suites will begin on June 17 and the suites will reopen in fall 2014, Wilson said.

Work on Canyon Point will start over the summer and will take about six months to complete. Wilson said Canyon Point residents for the 2013-2014 school year will live in Delta Terrace for the first six months and then move into Canyon Point while Delta Terrace is worked on for the next six months. She added that this renovation will be completed by fall 2014.

Dykstra Hall was also closed this year for renovation and will reopen in late August.

The renovation of Dykstra was included in the Infill project because the building was built in 1959 and it needed an update, Seplow said.

“The primary goal of this was to update in terms of safety, mechanisms and cosmetics,” Seplow said.

Dykstra has undergone renovations that included remodeling bathrooms and mechanical systems, such as heating and electricity. The building will also be wheelchair accessible, Wilson said.

Sophia Weiner-Light, a third-year psychology student, lived in Dykstra as a during her first year. Though she liked how social it was because many first-years lived there, she remembers the rooms were smaller, the elevators were slower and the bathrooms weren’t as nice as those in the buildings where her friends lived.

Seplow said another reason for the construction is that Housing wants to improve the ratio of non-triples to better accommodate student requests. Currently, about 70 percent of the dorm rooms offered on the Hill are triple-occupancy, but only about 30 to 40 percent of students request them.

The addition of the new De Neve and Sproul buildings aren’t the only changes the Hill has seen over the past few years.

Feast at Rieber, an Asian-fusion themed residential restaurant in Rieber Hall, also opened in 2011, and the Test Kitchen at Hedrick brought more organic and gluten-free food to the Hill when it opened in January. The Test Kitchen has allowed Dining Services to get feedback from students about menu items that will be served in Sproul’s new dining hall next year.

Also, last August, Saxon Steps, a path from the Hill to Gayley Avenue, were closed off and replaced by landscaping.

Kristina Garnett, a fourth-year world arts and cultures/dance student and a resident assistant in De Neve, has witnessed a number of these changes on the Hill since her freshman year.

“First-years now don’t even know that the streets near Rieber and Sproul used to be two-way,” Garnett said. “And Saxon Steps was my favorite way to get to the apartments.”

She also saw the opening of Feast and the Test Kitchen, which she said she liked because they add more dining options on the Hill.

Garnett has been a resident assistant for the past two years, and she is interested in how the increase in rooms will affect the job of future resident assistants.

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Anaika Miller
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