Doomed Dorms Are Being Recycled

July 7, 2009 — Dobie is coming down.

The first of three 40-year-old residence halls has been stripped and demolished to make way for a new generation of residence halls.

And it is not going to waste.

"Approximately 75 percent of the building will be recycled," said Patricia Romer, director of plans and programs for University Housing.

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Crews went through the building, stripping it of wire, pipe and usable materials, such as doors and toilets. The brick and concrete will be ground up to be used as a fill material. The salvage belongs to the contactor, W.M. Jordan, from the Hampton Roads area, although about 250 bricks from each dorm will be reserved for the Student Affairs Development Office, which will use them for fundraising.

Once Dobie House was stripped, the slate roof was removed, and then a crane with a wrecking ball was used to knock down the remaining shell. With the structure reduced to rubble, a backhoe scooped up the debris and hauled it away.

The process will be repeated this summer for the other two doomed dorms, Balz and Watson houses.

Once the three dorms are gone, they will be replaced with two larger dorms similar to Kellogg House, which opened last year. Adjacent dorms, including Lile, Webb, Cauthen and Kellogg, will remain open during construction.

This is the latest step in a plan to replace 11 residence houses with seven larger ones and increase the number of rooms for first-year students by 10 percent. Each of the old dorms housed 144 residents, while the two new buildings are designed to hold a combined 420 students. Add in the 192-bed Kellogg House, which opened last September, there will be space to accommodate increasing first-year enrollment.

The two new dorms each will be six stories tall. The ground floors will hold public common spaces, seminar rooms, laundry and vending spaces, as well as an apartment for the resident adviser coordinator. Each upper floor will have two residential communities – comprising 10 to 12 double student rooms, a common bathroom and a resident adviser room – plus a common lounge and quiet study room.

Since the buildings are being constructed on a steeply sloped hillside, some students will have views of Scott Stadium, the Rotunda and the surrounding mountains.

A 7,000-square-foot commons building will also be constructed between the two new residence halls to provide an assembly space to accommodate residents of one house at a time.

Romer said the doomed dorms were constructed in the 1960s and "have gone through their systems' useable life." She said the buildings were examined and would cost more to repair and upgrade than replace.

The buildings in the Alderman Road area were built in two waves in the 1960s to accommodate the University's rapid enrollment growth. Courtenay, Dunglison, Fitzhugh, Dunnington, Tuttle, Lile and Maupin houses were completed in 1964, and Balz, Dobie, Watson and Webb were completed in 1966.

Two other residence halls were added later, Cauthen House in 1996 and Woody House in 2000.

The current phase of the project – the demolition of three old dorms and construction of two – is estimated to cost $40 million, funded through a combination of savings and bonds, which will be paid off through housing fees.

— By Matt Kelly