Village People

CAse Western Reserve University's new Village 115 mixes energy efficiency and cutting-edge technology in a sleek $126 million package. Dorm life will never be the same.

Case Western Reserve University’s new Village 115 will easily impress curious parents who want to check out the space their sons and daughters will inhabit for the next nine months. Having seen it for ourselves, we predict the difficult part will be getting mom and dad to leave.

From the color scheme (each building’s hue corresponds to a reproduction of a piece of art from the Cleveland Museum of Art hanging above the lounge fireplace) to a weather station (students can check the forecast, e-mail and university announcements from first-floor kiosks) to washers and dryers that alert residents via e-mail when their clothes are clean, a lot of thoughtful planning has brought the sprawling complex to life.

“We were very intentional about engaging students, staff and faculty in making decisions,” explains Donald Kamalsky, assistant vice president and director of housing.

And with a 70 percent spike in freshman enrollment for the 2005-2006 academic year, Village 115’s seven new residence halls along East 115th Street couldn’t have come at a better time, even if the newest digs are available mostly to juniors, seniors and a handful of lucky sophomores.

The eco-friendly complex will use about 40 percent less energy than conventional residence halls and is in the process of being designated a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design project by the U.S. Green Building Council. The energy savings are made possible by conservation-minded features such as extra insulation, light shelves on the south- and east-facing windows and motion-controlled lights in all rooms, hallways and bathrooms. Student lounges are also outfitted with three lighting schemes: study-ing (bright), social (dimmed lights) and daylight (all natural light) to help keep the electric bill in check.

Village 115’s weather station will track each building’s utilities usage and compare the data against other buildings on campus such as Clarke Towers. Students and the public will be able to access those energy figures via the Web to follow how the new structure stacks up to its traditional counterparts.

But all this talk about energy savings shouldn’t distract us from mentioning that this place just looks and feels like a great place to live. Village 115’s prominent clock tower houses a library with a soaring ceiling and large glass windows that promises to be a welcome escape for students looking for quiet. The seven residence halls also include 16 group-study rooms, seven practice rooms for musicians and ubiquitous Wi-Fi access that makes going online as easy as finding a place to sit.

Meanwhile, sports fans will be pleased to discover that Case’s new football field — complete with lights (the university will host its first night game this season), stadium seating and a 1,200-vehicle parking garage that looks like a piece of art itself — is weaved into the center of Village 115’s design. Then there’s the convenience store, fitness center and Starbucks coffee shop that make it tough to argue that there’s really any need to leave campus.

But, as with everything new and exciting, there’s a price tag attached. The average Case student pays roughly $5,000 a year to live on campus. Village 115’s annual boarding fee is just shy of $7,000.

So, maybe students will have to leave every once in a while to go to work to help pay for their room. Either that or negotiate some extra visiting hours for mom and dad.

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