Rebuilding South from the Green up: Soil, construction method could slow planned dorms

Ohio University is searching for architecture- and utility-design teams for its overhaul of the residence halls on South Green and hopes to have both selected by next month.

The first two buildings of the dorm project are scheduled to open fall 2014, but that date could be pushed back, said Harry Wyatt, associate vice president for Facilities.

OU plans to construct two new residence halls on what is now the Adams Hall parking lot, which would be relocated. Renovation and new construction of dorms throughout campus are expected to cost between $400 million and $500 million and are part of OU’s $160 million debt-financing plan.

“One big area of research is the site itself,” Wyatt said. “Really all of South Green is in the flood plain, and when one builds in the flood plain, it’s necessary to take certain measures to make sure that you have a good, credible foundation.”

Athens city ordinances require that the first occupied floor of a building constructed on a flood plain be one foot above the 100-year flood plain, or the area that would be covered by water in the event of a severe flood, Wyatt said.

“We need to make sure that the integrity of the structural quality of the soils are such that we get a good, firm building,” Wyatt said.

The completion of the new dorms could be delayed if builders decide to use a process called “charging the site,” which involves allowing levels of soil to rest on the site and compact the soils underneath for a period of about four months, Wyatt said.

OU’s six-year capital improvement plan includes dorms, dining facilities and academic buildings throughout campus.

“We are excited about this … it will allow us to look at both the academic facilities as well as residential housing,” OU President Roderick McDavis said at a November Board of Trustees meeting.

The second phase of the plan for South Green, to be completed after the two new buildings are constructed, includes razing four smaller residence halls to make way for two larger ones behind the Front Four. After those two new ones are built, the rest of the smaller residence halls behind the Front Four will be torn down.

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