Advanced design, healthy environment promotes student interaction within Park Hall

Topics: Administrative, Sustainability/Environment

August 22, 2007

Park Hall
Artwork created by Ball State students is interspesed thoughout the common areas.

Park Hall, a unique, functional and technologically advanced living space that is designed purposely to attract and retain students, opened this fall on the Ball State campus.

The $32 million building, the university's first new residence since 1969, provides high-tech accommodations for more than 500 students. The hall is approximately 164,000 square feet, has 290 rooms and offers students privacy while encouraging interactivity.

The objectives of the striking design, created by CSO Architects and consulting architect Jim Curtain with Solomon Cordwell Buenz, are apparent upon entering the building.

A centrally located desk, which is staffed 24/7, creates a welcoming atmosphere at the same time it helps ensure security. Surrounding the desk is artwork created by Ball State students, public art purchased specifically for Park Hall. Just beyond the main lobby, students can enjoy two-story lounges with open staircases. Rich woodwork, fireplaces with clusters of couches and chairs offer a cozy feel yet promote interaction rather than isolation.

"We have built a community both vertically and horizontally," said Alan Hargrave, associate vice president for student affairs and director of housing and residence life. "The design is intentional. It will help students make new friends, adjust to their academic environment and help them better succeed at Ball State."

Multiple study lounges on each floor also provide common ground for residents to meet and mingle. There's also a fitness room, laundry room, recreation areas and a large multipurpose room to enhance the students' feeling of community. In addition, a music practice room provides space for students to record music videos, and nearby are technology areas where they can edit their projects.

Great rooms, great food

Gone are the days of cinderblock walls, dark hallways, isolated staircases and locker room showers. Even the individual rooms promote a sense of community. Four-room clusters, bathed in plenty of natural light, offer students a space to call their own but subtly encourage them to intermingle with as many as seven of their classmates.

Even the food Park Hall residents will eat is a far cry from mystery meat with a side of lumpy mashed potatoes and bland gravy familiar to the dorm dwellers of old. A short walk across the courtyard leads them to the newly remodeled Woodworth Commons. In this elaborately decorated restaurant setting, students can dine at El Fire Dragon, which offers Asian and Mexican cuisine on alternating days. At the Dellacassa station, meanwhile, they can select specialty pizzas cooked in a brick oven.

There's also a spinning salad station and world-themed or create-your-own grinders, wraps and deli sandwiches.

And not only does Park Hall advance current thinking on student and residential life, it also furthers Ball State's strategic plan.  In accordance with the university's commitment to the environment, Park Hall will meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification or better, Hargrave said. The rating system addresses six categories of building attributes: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design processes.

Park Hall stands as a proud tribute to the Park family's 87-year affiliation with the university, marked by the enrollment of five generations of Park children. Ball State President Jo Ann M. Gora especially noted the administrative leadership of Don Park, whose efforts helped increase the university's educational offerings and physical environment.

"During Don's tenure as vice president for university advancement, Ball State completed four major fundraising campaigns, secured three Lilly Endowment Challenge Grants and expanded development, alumni and marketing programs that enhanced opportunities for our students, faculty, staff and alumni," Gora added. "This new hall serves as a lasting tribute to Don's dedication to Ball State and proudly upholds the Park family tradition and will continue to do so for many years to come."

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