President Harvey Stenger and state Sen. Thomas Libous (in passenger side of car) prepare to take a tour of some of the buildings that are part of the East Campus Housing project.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
University celebrates East Campus HousingTweet
Calling it “a new era for Binghamton University,” President Harvey Stenger unveiled the East Campus Housing project during a ceremony Aug. 15 at the Chenango Champlain Collegiate Center.
“This isn’t the kind of space we would have imagined 30 years ago when some of us were in college,” Stenger said of the $375 million project. “It’s designed with the intent of keeping students where they live rather than encouraging them to go elsewhere. We know that the success of students is directly correlated to living on campus.”
Stenger was joined at the celebration by dozens of campus and community members, including local political officials and business leaders whose companies worked on the project. Among the speakers was state Sen. Thomas Libous, who Stenger said “was instrumental in making sure that this project went smoothly over the past (10) years.”
“This is a great day and this complex is amazing,” Libous said. “We are so blessed and lucky. Throughout my 26 years in the state Senate, I have been a strong advocate for this University.”
The East Campus Housing complex features eight residence halls (O’Connor, Rafuse, Johnson and Digman in the new Dickinson Community and Bingham, Broome, Delaware and Endicott in the Newing Community) and the collegiate center (also known as C4) on the east side of campus. All are built to LEED standards. The 1,139,486 square-foot complex will house more than 3,000 students, adding 900 beds to the University’s housing stock. It also helped support 6,313 local jobs and had a local economic impact of $580 million over the course of construction.
“Whether you are driving on Route 17 or standing here on campus, this project is a game changer,” James Van Voorst, vice president for administration, said. “The work and effort that went into this is beyond words.”
The cost of the project will be recouped through student housing fees.
“It is financed by the students’ desire to live here,” Stenger said. “This isn’t taxpayer-supported or a gift from the legislature. This is a project that pays for itself with the help and support of the (Dormitory Authority of the State of New York).”
Discussions about the project started in 2003, Van Voorst said, as a steering committee was formed and University officials worked with architects and the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York to develop a project plan. Informational sessions were held with students, alumni, community members and Binghamton Foundation board members to determine what they would like to see in the new buildings.
“One thing we heard loud and clear was that students and alumni related back to their residence hall,” Van Voorst said. “It was a big part of their Binghamton University experience. Throughout the design process, we strived to maintain the culture of each of the residential communities. … The underlying theme was: ‘Build on the past. Take us forward, but don’t lose what we are about.’”
Each building is constructed in the mini-suite style, with single and double bedrooms that share two private bathrooms. Each building also has a Great Room, kitchen, study lounges, recreation lounges, game rooms, a laundry room and hall offices for staff. The buildings provide community spaces in line with the history, feel and tradition of the Newing and Dickinson communities. For example, Dickinson features a multipurpose room with a stage for the Dickinson Community Players, while Newing has a soundproof practice room and a refurbished, working phone booth from the old Newing College.
Van Voorst praised the Physical Facilities and Student Affairs staffs that worked on the project, along with outside companies such as LeChase Construction Services, Stantec and Trudeau Architects. But the highest praise was given to the University’s “closest partner”: the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.
“Not only were they by our side for funding, contract negotiations and project management, they continually took the extra step to ensure that the project ended up with everything it could,” Van Voorst said.
“This is a beautiful complex designed and constructed with state-of-the-art sustainable elements,” Dormitory Authority of the State of New York President Paul Williams said. “This will provide a safe, comfortable and environmentally friendly place for students to live, learn and recreate for decades.”
After the ceremony, guests and dignitaries received tours of the complex. Students begin moving into the new residence halls on Aug. 22.
“It is the first time that we’ve tried to fill these dormitories in one morning and part of an afternoon,” Stenger said. “But we are ready for the challenge.”