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Clemson University began work on a residential village for students that will change a main gateway to the campus, change minds about living on campus and even change the view from the President’s House.
Seven residential buildings and a contemporary student hub will rise on 80 acres on the north side of Highway 93, where an unremarkable east campus entrance will become a bold statement that tells students and visitors they’ve arrived at one of the nation’s top schools.
Development of Douthit Hills builds on a long residential history. It will continue to be home to students who dwell, study, play, rest and make lifelong friends and memories cradled in the protective campus environment.
The Douthit Hills project will be a $212 million residential village geared to the expectations of students at a Top-20 national public university. Completion is projected for the summer of 2018. This new student community is part of a major capital improvement plan that sets the stage for Clemson’s next 50 years, just as a surge of construction half a century ago, in the 1960s, positioned Clemson to become what it is today.
On the east side, three residential buildings will house first-year students. The 780-bed capacity includes space for staff and residential advisors who lead and guide this living and learning community. A large swath of land to the east and north of the residence halls will provide parking and green space to maintain a protective buffer between town and campus.
Four residential buildings will house upperclassmen on the west side of the new Douthit Hills, adjacent to the Clemson House and a short walk to classes and campus activities. Amenities include choice of studio, two- and four-bedroom apartments, airy oversized windows, courtyards, landscaped walkways and other features competitive with off-campus options. The convenience of living on campus keeps upperclassmen active in the campus community and reduces town traffic and campus parking issues. About 400 of the planned 700 beds replace aging Clemson House student housing.
A central hub, with a contemporary glass front and tall columns located between the upperclassmen and first-year student housing areas will sit across Highway 93 from the President’s House, and put an exclamation mark on the statement this redeveloped campus entrance will make. Inside, a dining facility, campus bookstore, fitness center, coffee shop and more will make this a popular campus gathering place.
All eight Douthit buildings will be LEED-Silver Certified and advance Clemson’s commitment to sustainability with features such as directional, non-intrusive LED parking-area lighting that can be remotely programmed to shut off when not in use.
An intensive tree survey by campus and outside arborists was completed in order to save as many trees as possible. Of nearly 800 trees on site with a diameter of four or more inches, about 300 are marked with pink dots and will come down. Many are past their prime and need to be removed. Others were in the path of buildings despite various redesigns to save them. Six miles of protective fencing will guard the remaining trees. That’s nearly three times the two-and-a-half miles of construction fence recently erected around the perimeter of the property. In addition to the presence of Clemson arborists, the contractor hired an arborist to monitor root-sensitive operations. As work progresses, 400 young, healthy trees will replace those removed. While these seedlings start out small, they’ll grow to maturity over the years, like the students who will grow among them.
Initially it won’t be pretty. But the long-term gains – better housing options for upperclassmen, an academically enriching environment for first-year students and a tree stewardship plan that will leave us with more trees than when we started – are worth the temporary inconveniences.
Please pardon our progress. The sight and sound of construction is like a mighty tiger’s roar. It’s a harbinger of greatness yet to come.