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Dordt College News

Grand opening

August 16, 2010

Kuyper Apartments reflect "Every Square Inch" vision

To those who watched construction begin on the new Kuyper Apartments last year, it seemed as though the earthmoving never would be done.

Senior students say that the bright natural lighting and increased space in the new Kuyper Apartments  lead to better studying and fewer roommate conflicts.The reason it took so long was because workers were digging ninety wells for the large geothermal field that supports the heating and cooling system for the new 64,000-square-foot residence. The geothermal system increased construction costs, too, but by reducing the amount of energy used, those costs will be recovered within seven years, says Associate Provost for Co-curricular Affairs Bethany Schuttinga. After that, the college will pay significantly less to heat and cool the building than if it had used conventional systems.

Geothermal heating and cooling is one of several environmentally sustainable features of the new thirty-four apartments and community spaces housed in the Kuyper Apartments. Ready just in time for seniors arriving this fall, the building uses energy-efficient lighting, locally sourced materials, high-efficiency windows, and many sustainable resource materials.

In the end, the simple, contemporary design made the square footage costs for the building less than for most comparable buildings.

Schuttinga, with assistance from students and administrators, employed the architectural firm of Angelini and Associates, which has worked with campuses across the country to design progressive and functional campus housing. The firm is LEED-certified.
Schuttinga notes that when Angelini learned what Dordt stands for and that as a Christian institution, the college is committed to sustaining creation and its resources, the firm developed not only a good working relationship but incorporated that commitment into the design.

One of the first things visitors entering the building notice is the polished concrete floor.

“Concrete floors are better for people with allergies, and they keep the college from regularly having to dump thousands of square yards of synthetic carpeting into landfills,” says Schuttinga. Instead of laminate countertops, which need to be replaced in college residences every seven years, the more durable Corian was used. Energy Star-rated appliances have been installed. Energy-efficient lightening systems, tinted high-efficiency windows, black-out shades to keep out both light and heat, and Plyboo (compressed bamboo sheeting similar to plywood) are found throughout the building.

“We did have to compromise on optimal placement of the building because of space constraints,” says Schuttinga. The length of the building runs from north to south, giving the east and west sides full exposure to the hot sun. But in addition to using tinted and high efficiency windows and shades, trees have been planted to eventually provide shade.

Schuttinga and Resident Life Director Robert Taylor are pleased with the style and flexibility of the new apartments, which have large windows with expansive views of the prairie, open kitchen areas, convenient bathroom facilities, and three bedrooms to house six people. The apartments have a spacious, clean feel.

Shuttinga and Taylor are also happy with the group study rooms in which students from across campus can work with fellow students and learning area coordinators. And they’re especially fond of the Prairie Room, which overlooks Dordt’s restored natural prairie just south of the building and is available for devotions and meditation.

In the building’s front lobby, the 5000-square-foot, two-story community space features a prominent floor-to-ceiling fireplace. This gathering area also has a stage with lighting and sound capabilities for student performances. It also boasts a student-run coffee shop. The mezzanine has a larger room that can be used as a classroom during the day and offers extra seating or meeting space in the evening.

The Kuyper Apartments were originally planned for 360 students, but because of high construction costs, administrators trimmed it to a thirty-two-apartment residence for 192 students. Schuttinga says the additional residences will make it possible for the college to assign four rather than six students to the small two-bedroom East Campus apartments.

The additional beds also will allow the college to consider, depending on costs and enrollment, renovating two of the six two-story East Campus apartment buildings during each of the next three years. This new plan to renovate rather demolish East Campus also means that less rubble will be headed to the landfill.


SALLY JONGSMA

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