While seniority has its advantages, it’s the newbies who will get the best digs that Mercyhurst College has to offer when Frances Warde Hall officially opens to freshmen on Move-In Day, Saturday, Aug. 29.
Mercyhurst has long offered what many colleges are looking to build: apartments for upperclassmen. But freshman housing was older and overcrowded, so the Board of Trustees authorized construction of a new residence hall specifically designed to create a robust college experience for freshmen.
“Warde Hall stands as a sign of the health of this institution,” said Mercyhurst College President Dr. Thomas J. Gamble. “We ended fiscal year 2009 with our best fund-raising year ever; institution-wide we are experiencing one of our best admissions years ever; and our reputation for excellence continues to grow. There is much to be proud of.”
The $15 million four-story brick building, situated on the south campus just east of Tullio Field, offers new students so much more than a place to rest their heads. Clearly, gone are the days of box-sized rooms and group showers. Incoming students will find all the comforts of home, including spacious double rooms with tiled bathrooms, an exercise center, multimedia rooms, laundry facilities and a convenience store. Of an incoming freshman class estimated at 680, 322 will occupy Warde Hall.
Further, the residence hall’s design supports Mercyhurst’s commitment to “green” initiatives with strict attention to energy efficiency and environmental sustainability spanning the building, landscaping, storm water management and recycling of construction debris. Heating, air conditioning and ventilation and lighting and plumbing systems are within Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) requirements.
Mercyhurst hired The Westminster Group to study campus housing before the decision was made to build the new hall. Michael Redlawsk, a partner in James Properties Inc., the Westminster unit specializing in student housing, said it quickly became clear that the most pressing need was additional space for freshmen. With James Properties coordinating, the college signed Shelane Buehler of Buehler & Associates Architects to design the new building and Odyssey Builders Inc. as general contractors.
The plum new housing assignment offers freshmen privacy and security, with card-key entry and living quarters that are wired for high-speed Internet and cable TV. But, key to this particular college demographic is the provision for spaces that encourage interaction and provide the opportunity to form bonds and adjust to college life. Whether it’s watching wide-screen TV in a multimedia room or lifting weights at the exercise center, there are plenty of spaces that bring students together.
“This environment should contribute to a better experience for students once they arrive on campus and encourage them to stay,” said Laura Zirkle, assistant vice president of student life.
The new residence hall is named in honor of Mercyhurst’s founders, the Sisters of Mercy, specifically Mother Frances Warde who, in 1832, left her beloved Ireland to open a new world of Mercy ministries in the United States.