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Providence unveils dormitory design

By: Jordan Ross

Posted: 04/27/2018 9:00 AM

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A rendering depicts the Living and Learning Centre, a new coed dormitory planned at Providence University College in Otterburne. Fire destroyed Bergen Hall, the campus’s largest student residence, last June.

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A rendering depicts the Living and Learning Centre, a new coed dormitory planned at Providence University College in Otterburne. Fire destroyed Bergen Hall, the campus’s largest student residence, last June.

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Eleven months after a fire destroyed its largest student residence, Providence University College has detailed a new coed dormitory that will take its place.

"We really feel that this is not just beds. This is actually a space where students learn from each other," said Marlin Reimer, associate vice-president for student life and chair of the redevelopment committee that guided the design of the new building, provisionally known as the Living and Learning Centre.

During the planning process, the committee examined student residences on other campuses and identified the type of community it wanted the dorm to foster, Reimer said.

The college plans to break ground in August or September in anticipation of a fall 2019 opening. Construction will be overseen by Steinbach-based Three Way Builders.

In a release, Providence said its board of governors approved a $4 million increase to the institution’s ongoing Impact 2020 capital campaign, and Reimer said insurance funds will also be utilized.

The three-storey, 30,000-sq-ft. dorm will house up to 130 students, slightly more than the capacity of Bergen Hall, constructed in 1984.

"If resources were unlimited, we would build even more spaces," Reimer said.

While total enrollment has trended upward in recent years, the portion of students who choose to live in-residence has remained consistent at 55 to 60 percent, he noted.

The building’s ground level will house communal spaces including a kitchen, lounge, and prayer rooms, plus two apartments for staff or faculty.

"A lot of the programming in this building will be driven by connection with staff and faculty at Providence," Reimer said.

While Bergen Hall was a men’s residence, Reimer explained Providence "wanted to give both male and female students the opportunity to be part of this living and learning community."

Thus, male students will occupy the second floor, and female students the third floor, with swipe cards restricting access.

Room furnishings will be sparse but comfortable, with amenities concentrated in shared spaces to encourage socializing.

"We’ve really focused on driving community with this building, (and) deterring isolation," Remier said.

Sited slightly east of Bergen Hall with a south exposure overlooking the Rat River, the building will tie into the campus’s biomass generator, a boiler fuelled by wood pellets.

"We’re trying to move it a little bit closer to the rest of our residence buildings to create more of a residential community," Reimer said.

With four wings of equal length extending in each direction, the dorm will resemble a cross when viewed from above by aviation majors.

Each "pod" will house 14 to 16 students, an ideal peer group size according to Reimer, "rather than just having 60 people in one long hallway."

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