ASHEVILLE NC – UNC Asheville is preparing to welcome 550 new Bulldogs to the campus community this Friday as freshmen move into their residence halls and get ready to start classes on Monday, Aug. 20. And when freshman and returning students arrive, they will find new, top-notch science labs, a modern new residence hall, and a greener, more energy-efficient campus.
“We are expecting a freshman class that is remarkably able academically,” said UNC Asheville Provost Jane Fernandes. “The students we have accepted have strong academic profiles, with excellent high school preparation and notable college entrance exam scores.”
The average SAT for the incoming freshman class is expected to be about 1188, surpassing last year’s average of 1174. For more than a decade, UNC Asheville has consistently been among the top three or four campuses in the UNC system – along with UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State and UNC-Wilmington – when ranked by entering freshman SATs.
The new science labs are part of the state-funded, $8.8 million renovation of Rhoades Hall, the campus’ first classroom building. The vintage 1961 building is now upfitted for the current century with nearly a dozen new classrooms, and five new teaching and six new research labs, including a high-tech robotics lab for engineering students, high-end computational labs for physics students, and server-based computer lab for environmental science students studying GIS.
White boards along the hallways provide informal space for student-faculty exchanges as does the new, two-story glass-walled study area at the building’s entrance.
“With the completion of the Rhoades Hall renovations this fall and the opening of the Zeis Science and Multimedia building in 2009, UNC Asheville now has some of the best undergraduate science and math facilities in the Southeast,” said Keith Krumpe, UNC Asheville dean of natural sciences and professor of chemistry.
The Rhoades Hall renovation itself is a study in green retrofitting. A geothermal field under the Main Quad now provides the building’s heating and cooling and a 10,000-gallon underground rainwater cistern collects water for the building’s low-flow toilets. There are occupancy monitors to control lighting, an improved building envelope and larger windows to add daylight and reduce energy costs. Project architects were PBC+L of Asheville.
A new five-story residence hall, which opens this week for 300 returning students, has numerous green features as well, from geothermal heating to in-room energy sensors so students can monitor their own energy usage. With the addition of Overlook Hall, some 1,400 students, or almost 40 percent of the student body, will live on campus.
The new residence hall, designed with student input, has four- and six-person suites that combine single and double rooms with a shared living area and bathroom. Students will also have a food court, kitchenettes, laundry rooms, study areas, meeting space and a rooftop study area and lounge with views of campus and Mount Pisgah.
Overlook Hall’s geothermal field is designed to supply heating and cooling to six adjacent residence halls for much of the year, with backup heating and cooling available during the heaviest demand. The university expects the system to operate at 40% of the cost of traditional systems. The nearby residence halls will also share Overlook Hall’s new solar-heated hot water system.
Overlook Hall construction cost $16.7 million. State funding is not provided for residence hall construction in North Carolina. Residence hall construction projects are self-liquidating, with debt service funded through residence hall fees. The architects for the new residence hall were Gantt Huberman Architects of Charlotte, with design consultant by KieranTimberlake Architects of Philadelphia.