Construction of the first year village continues; Barnes Campbell Scheduled Demolition


Western Kentucky University is preparing for the final stages of the new construction of the “First Year Village” with the planned demolition of Barnes Campbell Hall.

The demolition of Barnes Campbell Hall is scheduled to begin the first week of January to allow for the completion of the $ 48 million living learning complex. The complex encompasses all of the current residences at the south end of the campus and includes two new pod style residences. The project is part of a 10-year strategic plan to optimize the campus life experience for current and future students. Demolition is expected to take 90 days.

The construction of two new university residences is the centerpiece of the first year village. Building 1, “Normal Room”, will accommodate 260 students, while Building Two, “Regents Room”, will house 375 students. All students in the new buildings will participate in vibrant learning communities, and each room will contain unique programming spaces, including public classrooms, study rooms, soundproof music practice rooms, a dining venue, etc. The normal room is expected to be completed by the end of November 2020.

Mike Reagle, assistant vice president for student engagement, said the first year village will connect students with similar academic and social interests through WKU’s living learning programs and across spaces well designed hallways. Both buildings will feature pod-style accommodation with 25 students per pod who share amenities such as bathrooms, common areas, and a resident assistant.

“Students will also have faculty, staff and student mentors to help them navigate the first year and successfully enroll in the second, putting them on track to complete their programs in a timely manner,” said Dr. Reagle. “It is important to relate time spent in class with the 150 hours per week that students spend outside of the classroom to ensure that they get the full benefit of the WKU experience. “

The area that Barnes Campbell Hall currently sits on will be part of a large park-like green space, creating a greater community atmosphere. The green space will be an ongoing project with new developments added over time.

The design of the new rooms features large windows in the community spaces, creating large “lanterns” for the south side of the campus.

Construction of the halls began last fall after the demolition of Bemis Lawrence Hall. Barnes and Bemis opened in 1966 and had reached the end of their useful life.

During the fall 2020 semester, Barnes Campbell was used as a quarantine location for students on campus whose contacts have been traced or tested positive for COVID-19. With the removal of Barnes Campbell Hall, quarantine locations will be available at Campus Chalets and Bates-Runner Hall.

The freshman village is slated to open to students in fall 2021.

“We are excited about this addition to our portfolio of housing options,” said Dr. Reagle. “The first year village fits well into the university’s strategic plan by providing the kind of experience that will ensure our students are successful.”

WKU Housing & Residence Life plans to broadcast the “first bite” of the demolition of Barnes Campbell Hall live on its Facebook page.

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