Kellogg House Opens Path for New Generation of University Dorms

September 12, 2008

September 12, 2008 — Kellogg House, the first of the next wave of first-year residence halls at the University of Virginia, contains cutting-edge technology, more social space and some of the best views in Charlottesville.

Built for $18.8 million, Kellogg opened in August for first-year students. It is the first of seven new dorms planned for the Observatory Hill area to replace 11 current residence halls.

Dobie House, the first to be demolished, will come down next summer and its replacement building should open in 2011. The cycle of residence hall construction and demolition should be completed in 2017. Kellogg House will be used as a model for the later buildings, but they will not be exact copies.

"They will have the same vocabulary, but each one may be articulated differently," University housing director Mark S. Doherty said.

Kellogg offers both wired and wireless Internet access. Students can even use their computers to help with their laundry, monitoring the first-floor laundry room to see how many machines are available or how soon those in use will become free. Once a load of wash is started, students can program the machine to notify them, via computer, when it is done.

Multi-purpose rooms on the ground floor provide social and classroom space and quiet study areas. There are also lounges and study areas on each of the four residential floors.

"Students can set up classes, bring in speakers, watch the big game or enhance their social lives," said Patricia Romer, director of plans and programs for University Housing. "This is a living and learning environment."

Officials hope the new quarters lead to a greater willingness among students to live in University housing after their first years.

"How we treat the first-year students shapes their ideas of on-Ground housing," Doherty said.

The early reviews from residents are enthusiastic.

"This place is great," Katherine Prater, 16, of Blacksburg said. "It has elevators, air conditioning and large lounges that will make for some good dance parties."

Residents are very happy to have independent heating and cooling controls in each room.

Marshall Keppel, 18, from Church Road, Va., likened life in Kellogg to "living in a hotel."

Keppel cited a "Kellogg Pride" among the residents, while Sharanjai Prasad, 18, of Bethesda, Md., said the students who live along the hallways tend to bond with each other.

"There is a sense of brotherhood," he said. "When we go to dinner, we go as a hall."

Students have put up large red Ks around the building to stress the dorm's identity. The building was named after Robert Kellogg, a former dean of Arts & Sciences, English professor, renowned scholar of Icelandic studies and a driving force behind Brown Residential College, who died in 2004.

Built into the slope of Observatory Hill, the dorm provides breathtaking views of Grounds.

"Some people have claimed that on a clear day you can see Richmond," Romer said. "I'm not sure I believe that."

The building's design incorporated input from student groups and surveys of what other schools were doing. Although it was designed before the University adapted the its current green building standards, there are still many sustainable aspects built in, including recyclable carpet tiles that make it easier to replace sections.

Building materials don't release volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere, and high-efficiency windows flood common areas with natural light. Student rooms have windows that can be opened, and many interior lights are on motion-detecting switches. Drought-resistant native plants in the landscaping eliminated the need for irrigation.

"Every year there is a theme for each of the residences building as they open," Romer said. "Kellogg residents dubbed it the 'O-Hillton.'"