Saunders breaks ground on 132,000-sf DU residence hall

du residence hall
Opening in fall 202, the 132,000-square-foot residence hall will provide housing for 500 first-year students as well as a series of campus-serving programs.

Saunders Construction and the University of Denver recently broke ground on the new first year residence hall, which will be named the Dimond Family Residential Village thanks to a $5 million gift from the Dimond Family Foundation.

The 132,000-square-foot residence hall is one of three buildings being rolled out as the first phase of the Denver Advantage Campus Framework Plan and will provide housing for 500 first year students as well as a series of campus-serving programs. The project is planned to open in fall 2020.

“Saunders has a long history of projects in higher education and with the University of Denver. We’re thrilled to be a part of the team bringing The Denver Advantage Plan to life,” said Justin Cooper, vice president of Saunders. “As the first building being rolled out as part of this plan, the Dimond Family Residential Village will serve as a state-of-the-art community space where students will cultivate relationships and collaboratively learn. The expertly designed facility by Anderson Mason Dale integrates DU’s rich architectural history with modern form.”

Built on the footprint of the north side of the Driscoll Student Center and located at the heart of campus, the Dimond Family Residential Village will house spaces for classes, programming, studying and collaborative opportunities, as well as a central dining hall to bring people together for meals and conversation. To foster meaningful interactions, dialogues and relationships among the university’s 1,500 first-year students, the new residence hall will feature “pods” of about 24 students each.

“A key underlying principle of the design is the notion of nested scales of community, focused on the idea that an incoming first year student, who rarely knows fellow classmates upon move in, can be encouraged to make connections with a small group and from this foundation, build up to connecting with larger and larger groups,” said Erin Hillhouse, AMD principal. Pods are organized into “houses” with connecting stairs, and houses are linked with a central shared glass meeting space that students have dubbed the “treehouse.”

In addition to the pods, programming space and an outdoor gathering area will accommodate the entire first-year class and the building will feature 261 sleeping units as well.

Other partners on the project include architects Moore Ruble Yudell (Santa Monica, California) and Anderson Mason Dale (Denver); structural engineering by Martin/Martin Inc. (Lakewood); landscape by Didier Design Studio (Fort Collins); mechanical/ plumbing/electrical/technology by Cator, Ruma & Associates (Lakewood); energy modeling by Energetics Consulting Engineers (Aurora); food service by Laschober + Sovich (Woodland Hills, California); sustainability by France Sustainable Solutions; and acoustics/AV by K2 Acoustics.

The Dimond Family Foundation represents the philanthropic pursuits of Navin and Rita Dimond, the founders of Denver-based Stonebridge Cos., and their two daughters.

Published in the April 17-30, 2019, CREJ.

Kris Oppermann Stern is publisher and editor of Building Dialogue, a Colorado Real Estate Journal publication, and editor of CREJ's construction, design, and engineering section, including news and bylined articles. Building Dialogue is a quarterly, four-color magazine that caters specifically to the AEC industry, including features on projects and people, as well as covering trends…