The long-awaited new residence hall, Palm Apartments, is finally complete. The days of taking a shuttle bus to class are finally over for some previous Barrymore Hotel residents. Although Palm Apartments was built to house upperclassmen, the freshmen who were living in the Barrymore Hotel were pulled onto campus to live there for the semester.
Construction of the new dorm began with the demolition of the southern wing of Residential Community in May 2014. Contractors are still making finishing touches and installing landscaping for the apartments which should be completed in the next few weeks, according to Eric Cardenas, the Director of Public Information and Publications at UT.
“The new residence hall and the rooms within were designed by a committee that included architects, contractors and university staff,” including Residence Life and Residence Hall staff, Cardenas said. “The design was based on current trends in university housing, as well as feedback from current and former students about what they desire in residential living.” The design was also intended to increase student collaboration and engagement.
This is the only residence hall that has a laundry room on every floor. While the laundry rooms are completed and functional on floors two through six, the rooms on floors one and seven should be completed by the end of this week. Each room is suite-style with a common living room, kitchen, bathroom and four single rooms. There is one suite on floors two through seven that houses five students and includes one double sleeping room.
But the real question students want to know is this: What’s it like living there?
Amanda Halek, a freshman business management major, likes living in the apartments because she feels more a part of the campus community.
“I hated living in the [Barrymore] because I felt so disconnected from everything,” Halek said. “Being on campus makes such a difference. And the dorm itself is beautiful. I like the fact that I have my own room and can really personalize everything.”
Ishmael Moya, a freshman allied health major, said his favorite feature is the kitchen.
“I love to cook, so having my own big kitchen is definitely a plus, especially for those nights when I’m not in the mood for anything on campus,” Moya said. “I also love the view from our huge common room window. So far, I really have no complaints.”
Although many students are satisfied with Palm Apartments, those living on the seventh floor have complaints about the construction. Julie Dwyer, a freshman international business and finance major who lives on the seventh floor, said it has been interfering with her studies.
“There’s almost never a time when men aren’t doing work in our common room,” Dwyer said. “We’ve also gotten some jealous seniors who are drunk knocking on our door, asking to come inside and check it out. But other than that, I’m happy with the dorm. I’m sure that it will be better once everything is fixed and fully finished.”
The residents who moved from the Barrymore did not have to pay an increase in room and board. Housing fees for next year have not been proposed to or approved by the UT Board of Trustees, according to Cardenas.They will be announced after the March Board of Trustees meeting. Plans for the next phase of the Palm Apartments have not been finalized. However, Rescom will be a part of the upcoming ‘continuing student room selection’ process for the 2015-2016 academic year.
Madison Irwin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org