Patterson Hall, which has housed female USC students since the 1960s, is about to get a major makeover.
Beginning in May, the nine-story building on Bull Street near Blossom Street will be shut down for 15 months to transform the individual dorm rooms with community bathrooms to suites more fitting to the tastes of today's students.
"Students are more concerned about their privacy," said USC's director of housing, Kirsten Kennedy. "This provides them that ... and is more in line with what students expect from their college living experience."
The $38.5 million project will help USC compete with other universities and, to a degree, with private student housing that has sprung up on Assembly Street and along Bluff and Shop roads.
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Patterson caters to mostly to freshmen and sophomores, said Tom Quasney, USC's associate vice president for facilities. Those younger students prefer on-campus housing "because they can share the university experience. They are next to the Russell House. They don't have to ride a bus to campus. Those types of things."
Patterson also will have two classrooms where freshmen will be introduced to campus life through the University 101 course. The course, among other things, teaches time management, study skills, ethics and how to prepare for tests, Kennedy said.
"We focus a lot on transitioning the first-year student from high school to college, so we don't really compete with the off-campus housing," which tends to attract older students, she said.
The project, which reduces the number of beds in the building to 560 from 637, should be completed by the fall semester in 2011.
In the meantime, students who normally would stay there will be absorbed into the university's 6,000 other beds or seek private housing.
That happened last year, when the old "honeycomb" dorms at Blossom and Main streets were razed to make way for the new $47 million honor's dorm which opened this semester.
The new Patterson Hall will do more than knock out walls to make suites and add bathrooms:
- The design calls for four new vertical tower elements at the corners.
- The building will receive a seismic upgrade.
- The building's interior will be revamped, including new paint, carpet and fixtures.
- The dorm will be have energy-saving windows and lights, low-flow toilets and shower heads, and other green features
- The concrete plazas around the dorm will be replaced with sod in many places.
"It will have a Horseshoe-esque feel," Kennedy said.