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Vol 87: No. 3
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It Takes A Village

When East Campus opened in 1995 on the last undeveloped tract of land ceded to Abraham Baldwin in 1785, it changed the psyche of the University. The first wave of construction was devoted to the arts, academics, fitness, and parking. Now students live there, too.

by Kent Hannon

When a spirited crowd of students congregated to watch this year’s Georgia-Arkansas football game at UGA’s East Campus Village, they had to feel pampered and ­privileged. These students were treated to free hot dogs and ­hamburgers at an open-air cookout in the courtyard of their ­spanking-new, ­apartment-style ­residence hall. Then, when it came time for the 7 p.m. telecast from Fayetteville, the students moved ­inside to whoop and holler for the ­victorious Dogs in the sumptuous confines of ECV’s Fireside Lounge.

Part ski lodge, part corporate board room, the Fireside Lounge is as close to heaven as you can get for an on-­campus Dogs-watching party. It has a stone ­fireplace at one end (see photo on p. 20) and a wall-mounted, plasma screen ­television on the other. But these lucky ECV ­students didn’t have to settle for just the 50-inch Hitachi.

“With all these kids packed into the Fireside Lounge for the Georgia-Arkansas game,” says ECV assistant area coordinator Jeremy Early, “we thought they’d enjoy watching the game on the huge projection screen that drops down from the ceiling.”

East Campus Village has a lot of other things going for it, including furnished livingrooms (see photo above), kitchens with microwaves and full-size ­refrigerators, private bedrooms, high-speed Internet service, and cable TV ­connections. Shower shoes are no longer a priority, thanks to private bathrooms, and each of the four ECV buildings has two laundry rooms. Security is a key issue for parents, who applaud the state-of-the-art fire ­alarm systems and controlled access to all outside doors via biometric hand readers.

As good as all this sounds, what clinches the deal for ECV residents is what’s located next door:

• Ramsey Center — A fitness mall that rivals downtown as a place to meet people. Nation’s best on-campus workout facility, ­according to Sports Illustrated.

• East Village Commons — As food courts go, this one ­deserves five stars for both its food and its architecture (see GM cover).

• East Campus parking deck — Parking’s generally a headache on campus, but not at ECV.

• East Campus bus stop — Drive to class? Not with an ­award-winning transit system and a bus stop right outside your door.

• Health Center — Yet another nationally recognized facet of East Campus life.

When the University initiated a massive renovation plan for on-­campus housing in 1993, East ­Campus Village wasn’t even a gleam in housing director Jim Day’s eye. At a cost of $70 million, including financing, the 1,221-bed facility is more expensive than the initial ­campus-wide $60 million project ­begun in ’96 and completed in ’98 with the renovation of Reed Hall adjacent to Sanford Stadium. At that time, residence hall refurbishing had to paid for out of a housing reserve fund that accumulates each year as rent checks arrive. That can be a slow process, and then, as now, each project had to be approved one at a time by the State Board of Regents.

“With the advent of the UGA Real Estate Foundation, which made East Campus Village possible,” says Day, “bonds can be issued to finance large capital projects—and we can get them done a lot faster.”

Reed (300 beds) has become so popular following its $10.4 million facelift that the waiting list to get into the 51-year old facility is measured in years. And the newly renovated Myers Hall ($16.4 million/400-bed facility) opened to rave reviews from tenants in fall ’03.

Designed by Niles Bolton ­Associates, Collins Cooper Carusi Architects, and the University Architects office, East Campus ­Village was created with North ­Campus in mind.

“When we set out to build the first new housing on campus in more than 35 years,” says campus architect Danny Sniff, “we wanted to evoke the style of North Campus. I think we’ve accomplished that with masonry walls and a chimney-like design element that resembles New College.”

The architecture likely to turn the most heads is the interior of nearby East Village Commons, whose dramatic staircase—coupled with a ceiling that looks the hull of a great sailing vessel—render the term “dining hall” obsolete. With food stations dedicated to Angus burgers, veggie plates, pizza, omelettes, grilled sandwiches, and made-to-order smoothies, the Commons will no doubt add to the collection of national awards won by Mike Floyd’s food service operation.

“With the Athens rental market overbuilt,” says Day, “we want to be the best landlord in town. And when you look at East Campus, I think you have to be impressed with the wow factor.”

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Click on image to enlarge

Designed by Niles Bolton Associates, Collins Cooper Carusi Architects, and the University Architects office, the four-building east Campus Village complex adds 1,221 beds to University housing. The seven-acre site is located between the Ramsey Student Center and the Athens Perimeter. Photo courtesy of UGA Housing.

The second-floor Village Summit food court serves made-to-order food to please any palette: Angus burgers, veggie plates, pizza, omelettes, grilled sandwiches, even smoothies.

Based on the ground floor of the Commons, the Red Clay Cafe offers cash-paying customers a wealth of choices. Photo by Paul Efland.

Amenties such as the 24-hour service desk come standard with a student's rent check.

Furnished units come in two-, three-, or four-bedroom configurations.

Access to all outside doors is governed by biometric hand readers.

Part ski lodge, part corporate board room, the Fireside Lounge- which is equipped with a 50-inch plasma TV and a huge projector screen that drops down from the ceiling- is as close to heaven as you can get for studying or an on-campus Dogs-watching party.