UL’s newest residence hall opened at full capacity Thursday, Aug. 18 as the staff of Baker Hall welcomed 464 students.  “We are 100 percent full — with a waiting list,” said Lisa Luquette Landry, Director of Housing at UL.

The four-story structure, on Taft Street near St. Mary Boulevard, is the first of four residence halls planned for the university campus. Huger Hall is already under construction next door to Baker Hall.

The buildings will increase the university’s housing capacity by 37 percent.

Because of the high demand for accommodations, UL offered an alternative this semester: 150 students will live at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on West Pinhook Road, about two miles from campus.

Those students are on a priority list for occupancy of Huger Hall, which is expected to open at the start of the Spring 2012 semester. It will accommodate 468 residents.
Before Baker Hall was built, 1,887 students, or about 11 percent of the student population, were housed on campus. At universities with similar enrollments, more than 20 percent of students live on site, on average. When the new housing is complete, it will increase number of beds to 2,999.

Baker Hall was constructed in less than nine months, along with Olivier Tower, an 850-space parking garage. Baker Hall is located on Taft Street near its intersection with East St. Mary Boulevard. Olivier Tower, which is adjacent to the residence hall, faces McKinley Street.

No state funds will be used to pay for these improvements. The residence halls and parking facility are funded by public bonds, which will be repaid with income from room rentals and parking fees.

UL’s newest residence halls have furnished, single- and double-occupancy suite-style rooms with a private bathroom in each suite. Each room has a kitchenette with a small refrigerator and microwave.

The buildings feature common areas for studying and socializing.  Each building will also have a high-tech laundry room adjacent to a community kitchen and lounge. Students will be able to check online, via computers or Internet-capable cell phones, to find out whether a washer or dryer is available — or if their clothes are dry.

The residence halls offer 24-hour security. Cameras monitor the interior and exterior of the buildings. Residents are required to swipe their identification cards at building entrances, elevators, suites and individual rooms.

New housing will create living-learning communities, where students with common interests will live and study together. They may be first-year students, honors students or band members, for example.

UL adopted a comprehensive strategic development plan in 2009. The five-year plan outlines goals such as increased enrollment and graduation rates. It calls for increased support of first-year and non-traditional students. And it specifically identifies projects such as grounds improvements, the restoration of historic buildings and the construction of new student housing.

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