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July 23, 2001

University Apartments gets new name, look

By Michael Terrazas


Life at Emory’s Clairmont Campus—formerly University Apartments—is pretty dusty these days. Earthmovers, trucks and all manner of construction equipment carve their craggy tracks across the exposed red clay, and four massive cranes tower over the acreage from their cardinal points.

A gorgeous view of the north Georgia piedmont, it ain’t. But in a little more than a year, the Clairmont Campus will be scarcely recognizable.

“I really view it as a distinctive campus that we’re building for Emory University,” said Todd Schill, assistant dean of Campus Life and director of Residential Services. “I like the different partnerships that are evolving, that cross over different divisions within the University. That is a special quality and a uniqueness most campuses don’t have.”

To be sure, the Clairmont Campus will be primarily a residential facility, with a total of 1,520 bed spaces for undergraduates (limited to upperclassmen) and graduate students. But the rest of the 18.44 acres will be much more than just empty space; also going up is a $9.6 million Student Activities and Academics Center (SAAC) that will feature athletic facilities like indoor and outdoor basketball courts, an Olympic-size swimming pool and tennis courts, along with classroom and office space as well as dining facilities complete with an outdoor patio overlooking the adjacent athletic field.

These features are where the partnerships come in; Schill and his staff are working with Emory College, the Information Technology Division, the General Libraries, Community Services and the Parking Office, Athletics and Recreation and even the Health Sciences Center in coordinating programming and amenities.

“We’re trying to use all the space as much as possible,” said Schill, suggesting that classrooms could accommodate classes during the day and study groups or student project meetings at night. The goal, he added, is to approach 24-hour-a-day usage for many of the spaces.

Of course, everything must be built before people will come, and there is a staggered schedule for completion of the various projects. Art Platt, project manager for the new housing units, said part of the graduate facility will be completed by January, when he will begin giving a facelift to the old UA Tower, which despite all the construction is still a functioning residence for some 400 graduate students. Those students will be moved into the new housing, and all the housing units are scheduled for completion by summer 2002. The SAAC then will come online by November or December of next year.

All totaled, the construction cost for the three projects (housing, Tower facelift and SAAC) comes to roughly $66 million, but the new housing facilities will look every bit as tony as their price tag; a typical undergraduate unit will feature four single bedrooms, two baths, and full kitchens and living rooms. Graduate units will be basically one- and two-bedroom apartments, and there will even be 18 “professorial” units in the graduate housing to provide living space for faculty and staff members.

“I’ll be living there,” Schill said, adding that he has received inquiries from both junior and senior faculty about living at Clairmont Campus. The professorial units—which boast multiple bedrooms as well as office areas, half-baths, separate dining rooms and laundry and storage rooms—are “peppered” throughout the graduate living quarters, he said, to encourage as much faculty-student interaction as possible.

Finally, the residence/SAAC-related construction is not the only work going on at Clairmont Campus; before the end of August, a new child-care center and autism center will break ground, according to Vicki West, project manager for both buildings. The child-care center will be located along Starvine Way between the Clairmont Campus Parking Deck (the “Garage Mahal,” as Schill said the contractors have taken to calling it) and the Lullwater shuttle road, and the autism center will be sited in the north section of the acreage, near the existing Mason Guest House and Hope Lodge.

Both facilities will be completed in time for summer 2002, West said. She said the child-care center—a “sister” facility to one being built on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention campus—will be able to accommodate some 216 children and will be built along the Italian Reggio Emilia school of thought.

“It basically considers the children’s spatial environment a ‘third teacher,’ along with the actual teacher and the parent,” West said. The concept uses architectural features such as shadow lines and interior windows to aid in a child’s development; a toddler may be crawling along and come upon a mirror embedded in the floor, West said, helping the child learn and deal with self-recognition.

“It’s a really cool idea to help children become aware of their surroundings and learning from them,” West said.


Back to Emory Report July 23, 2001