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Published August 01, 2009, 07:49 AM

University housing projects on the rise

A look at university student housing projects in the region.

By: Tara Troge, Prairie Business Magazine

Last fall enrollment at North Dakota State University reached an all-time high of 13,229, forcing the university to house more than 400 students in motel rooms in nine locations throughout the Fargo-Moorhead area.

North Dakota State, which has seen enrollment increase for nine straight years, broke ground on the $20 million expansion of the Niskanen apartment complex. The expansion includes building three apartment-style housing complexes that will contain approximately 200 units per building and house up to 800 students. Construction is expected to be complete by the fall of 2010.

Each apartment in the new development will have a kitchen, two bathrooms, data ports, cable TV and air conditioning. Laundry rooms and student lounges will also be available to students on each floor.

“Enrollment is increasing and demand for on campus apartments continues to increase,” says Michael Harwood, North Dakota State’s assistant dean of student life. “Students want the convenience and affordable housing that is provided on campus. These apartments will provide more options for our older students wanting to stay on campus.”

Another project related to housing at the university is the Cityscapes Plaza project in downtown Fargo. The five-story mixed-use building was designed by JLG Architects and will be owned by Cityscapes Development. The building’s upper four floors will house NDSU students and will be managed by the university.

The top four floors of the project will house 104 apartments and approximately 214 beds for NDSU students attending the university’s new downtown campus. Construction on the building, which will also include retail space, an NDSU bookstore and campus police offices on the ground floor and heated underground parking, is under way and it is expected to be completed in time for the opening of NDSU’s downtown business college facility this fall.

North Dakota State is one of a number of colleges in the region in the midst of building new student housing and renovating existing facilities to meet the demands of increased enrollment and ensure housing stock is updated and meets the needs of students.

Here’s a look at some other university-related housing projects under construction or planned in the region:


Hamline Square, a pair of three-story, 77-unit student apartment complexes a stone’s throw from the Ralph Engelstad Arena and nearby retail shops opens this month at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, ND. The twin buildings, which will house as many as 200 students in 2- to 4-bedroom apartments, will be ready in time for the beginning of the fall semester.

The buildings were developed by the Grand Forks-based Dakota Commercial and Development Company, built by Community Contractors Inc. of Grand Forks and designed by ICON Architectural Group, which has offices in Fargo and Grand Forks. The university will lease the buildings from the developer and rent the apartments out to students.

Rick Tonder, the university’s director of campus capital projects and planning, says the project will help the university diversify its housing options and offer apartment-style living to students.

“It is unique for the university to have a facility that is almost the same as off campus apartments,” Tonder says. “It will be a welcome change for people who want to live on campus and have the same housing accommodations they would find elsewhere.”


Construction on a new $10.6 million apartment-style residence hall at the University of Minnesota’s Crookston campus was wrapping up last month and will be complete in time for the fall semester.

Evergreen Hall will house 128 students in 16 two-bedroom, four-person apartment units in two separate wings. The building will also include a state-of-the-art interactive technology classroom, a lounge, study areas, a fitness room and it will also offer limited food service for students.

Peter Phaiah, the university’s associate vice chancellor for student affairs, says the new housing complex is needed as a result of increased enrollment and higher student retention rates. Evergreen Hall will essentially replace two older residence halls on campus that have been or are in the process of being torn down.

Evergreen Hall, which was designed by Moorhead, MN-based Michael J. Burns Architects, is seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council as a Silver level project. The environmentally-conscious design and construction included green aspects like low-flow plumbing fixtures, high efficiency lighting and dedicated recycling areas.


The former site of a trailer park south of the DakotaDome in Vermillion, SD, will soon be home to 550 University of South Dakota students. The $1.9 million Coyote Village housing project, which will be geared toward sophomores, juniors and seniors, will be four stories high and will include 75 two-bedroom, one-bathroom “super suites,” 100 four-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments and 661 parking spaces.

University officials say the new facility is needed to address the future housing needs of students. The project is part of the university’s overall master plan that includes renovating or removing four other residence halls and converting current double-occupancy units to single occupancy.

Construction began in June and the project is expected to be complete by the fall of 2010.


Construction on a village of three new pod-style residence halls at South Dakota State University began in June in Brookings, SD, and is scheduled to be completed in July 2010. The complex will include two four-story buildings and one three-story building. Each floor of the complex, which was designed by Sioux Falls-based Koch Hazard Architects in association with Lawrence, KS-based Treanor Architects, will be broken down into small communities or “pods” to increase student interaction. The pods will house 18 students each with a shared bathroom and study space.

Once complete, the complex will add 408 beds and help meet the need for more student housing at the university as a result of increasing enrollment. The project is seeking LEED Silver designation.


The first part of a multi-phase residential master plan for updating student housing recently got started on the Augustana College campus in Sioux Falls. The first phase consists mainly of infrastructure work, which is scheduled to be completed by September. The second phase of the project will bring more visible exterior and interior changes to the university.

Augustana College’s original dorms were built between the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and have gone without renovations for the last five to eight years. Design work for eight-story units at Granskou and Stavig halls was performed by Koch Hazard Architects.

The buildings are going through the cycle of needing major renovations,” says Stacey McMahon, a principal at Koch Hazard Architects. “Students’ living styles have also changed and we’ve taken into consideration green building strategies, the need for student interaction spaces, study areas and technology.”


The renovation of four residence halls on the Dakota State University campus in Madison, SD, is halfway complete. The remodeling of Higbie and Richardson halls was finished last summer and the renovation of Emry and Zimmerman halls are scheduled to be complete and ready for students before classes begin this fall. The four residence halls can accommodate a combined total of 626 students.

The university’s four, four-story residence halls, which were built in the 1960s, have undergone a comprehensive refurbishing, including adding new windows, student lounges on each floor, new dressing areas and remodeled bathrooms that add more privacy for students.

“Campuses are becoming cognizant of meeting students’ needs and new expectations,” says Chris Schiltz, a principal with Koch Hazard Architects, which performed design work for the project. “(The dorms) are being designed or renovated to bring them into compliance with student expectations.”


An estimated $8 million project to renovate the Connolly and Palmerton residence halls on the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology campus in Rapid City, SD, began in May. Construction on Connolly Hall is scheduled to be finished by the end of the year and renovations to Palmerton Hall are expected to be complete by June 2010.

Both dorms will be updated with air conditioning added throughout, new bathrooms and flooring, kitchens and lounges on each floor and smoke detection and fire sprinkler systems installed. A new commons area will also be added, connecting to two residence halls, along with recreational equipment and student gathering areas.

The outdated mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems and flooring will also be replaced in both buildings. The renovation project will seek LEED Silver certification and will include green elements like solar-powered hot water.

The renovations, which will also add an additional 100 beds to the two residence halls, were needed to update the buildings and will help the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology address growing enrollment, according to Robert Wharton, the university’s president.

It was a much-needed project,” Wharton says. “They were in great need of updating. It needed to be done now. Sometimes timing is a very important thing.”

Troge is a Park Rapids, MN-based freelance writer and attorney. She can be reached at