SOU Announces New Student Housing Village and Dining Commons

$40 million energy-efficient project replaces aging Cascades Complex

(Ashland, Ore.)—Southern Oregon University (SOU) is proposing to build a new, environmentally sensitive student housing neighborhood to replace the half-century-old Cascades housing and dining complex located on Indiana Street, above Siskiyou Boulevard. The new facility would be located adjacent to the Greensprings Housing complex below Siskiyou Boulevard.

“We intend to replace the least energy efficient building on campus with the most efficient,” says SOU President Mary Cullinan. “As a Charter Signatory to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, SOU is committed to environmental sustainability and a lower carbon footprint. Our new housing village advances us toward our goal of climate neutrality by the year 2050. And the project will be wonderful for students.”
The Cascades complex currently uses 60 percent of the steam heat generated by the campus power plant.
“It has outlived its useful life and is prohibitively expensive to renovate,” says SOU Vice President of Student Affairs Jonathan Eldridge. SOU’s recent Master Plan update calls for the de-commissioning of Cascade and the shift of residential facilities and dining commons to the other side of Siskiyou Boulevard.
Eldridge says “this shift will create a critical mass of community that is a vibrant place for students to live, interact and socialize.” The change also opens the academic core for potential future instructional buildings west of Hannon Library after Cascade is removed.
The Cascade complex accommodates 600 students. The new residential village would accommodate 700—a net gain of 100 beds. The new residential village would include two four-story buildings, one a semi-suite residence hall with two-bedroom configurations with shared and private accommodations and shared bathrooms. The other building would be a suite-style residence hall with both shared and private accommodation options, with fully furnished living rooms and kitchenettes.
The plan is for the new housing and dining facilities to meet LEED Silver or higher certification for sustainable features and design. Portland-based architectural firm SERA has designed the proposed village and commons. SERA also designed the RCC/SOU Higher Education Center (HEC) in Medford, the first LEED Platinum-certified building in the Oregon University System.
The housing project is a public/private partnership with American Campus Communities (ACC), a national leader in project development, ownership and management of high-quality campus communities. It would be ACC’s second project in Oregon. ACC’s first, University Pointe at College Station, also designed by SERA, is scheduled to open next August at Portland State University.
The contractor for SOU’s housing village and dining commons is Adroit Construction of Ashland, builders of the HEC, the Rogue Valley-Medford International Airport terminal and control tower and many other regional facilities. The project is expected to generate 200 local construction jobs during the building phase.
During the last year, SOU issued a Request for Qualifications and then a Request for Proposals seeking a developer with whom to enter into a public-private partnership for student housing. Through the process, SOU selected American Campus Communities and its team of SERA and Adroit as partners. The partnership with ACC allows SOU to enter into a ground-lease arrangement that results in the university owning the structures at the end of the lease. The project is financed through a separate non-profit foundation, freeing capacity to fund other campus projects. No public funds are spent on the project.
SOU’s goal is to receive permit approval by next spring, begin construction by early April, complete construction by summer 2013 and be ready to accommodate students by the start of fall term 2013.
SOU has begun conversations with neighbors living adjacent to the project area, as well as the Ashland Planning Department. Traffic, parking and pedestrian surveys are also underway.
The university is asking for additional feedback on the proposed residential village and dining commons at two upcoming public information sessions, to be held on campus October 11 at 7 p.m. in the Stevenson Union Arena, and October 25 at 7 p.m. in the Meese Room of Hannon Library.
For details of the housing village and dining commons, including elevation drawings and site plans, visit