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Duquesne students impressed with new dorm

| Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012, 10:47 p.m.
The lobby of the new Des Places Hall Tuesday August 14, 2012 is home to the former cornerstone of the old five story Des Places building that was built in 1909 and razed in 2010 to make way for the 12-story green residence hall on the campus of Duquesne University downtown. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
A Brita Hydration Station is one of the perks of the new Des Places Hall Tuesday August 14, 2012 built on the site of the old five story Des Places building that was built in 1909 and razed in 2010 to make way for the 12-story green residence hall on the campus of Duquesne University downtown. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
A view of downtown from the 11th floor common room is one of the perks of the new Des Places Hall Tuesday August 14, 2012 built on the site of the old five story Des Places building that was built in 1909 and razed in 2010 to make way for the 12-story green residence hall on the campus of Duquesne University downtown. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
RA Charlene Kabel relaxes in her new dorm room inside the new Des Places Hall Tuesday August 14, 2012 built on the site of the old five story Des Places building that was built in 1909 and razed in 2010 to make way for the 12-story green residence hall on the campus of Duquesne University downtown. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
The bike racks in front of the new Des Places Hall Tuesday August 14, 2012 built on the site of the old five story Des Places building that was built in 1909 and razed in 2010 to make way for the 12-story green residence hall on the campus of Duquesne University downtown. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
The new Des Places Hall Tuesday August 14, 2012 built on the site of the old five story Des Places building that was built in 1909 and razed in 2010 to make way for the 12-story green residence hall on the campus of Duquesne University downtown. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

When 380 Duquesne University students return to campus next week, they will become the first residents of a new dorm with nothing but suites, part of an effort to meet demand for student housing.

Carter Poe, a Duquesne senior, moved into Des Places Hall early because he plays on the soccer team and practice has started.

“I didn't expect anything like this at all, to be honest,” he said. “Last year we decided to sign up for this new building and we'd heard it would be nice and kind of eco-friendly, but this has definitely surpassed our expectations.”

Des Places Hall, a $38 million dorm with one-, two- and three-bedroom suites for Duquesne upperclassmen and graduate and law students, was built on the Uptown site that used to house WDUQ radio.

The building is among several major housing projects that local universities have planned or undertaken in recent months. Rising demand for on-campus housing was a major part of Duquesne's decision to increase Des Places Hall from eight to 12 stories.

Creating more university-owned student housing also is a focus for Robert Morris University in Moon, which purchased a nearby Holiday Inn at a sheriff's sale last year, converting eight of the 11 floors into dorm space.

“We really have transformed from a commuter to a residential campus, and that's very intentional,” said Kyle Fisher, an RMU spokeswoman.

“The university saw that as a priority because it enriches the learning dynamic of the student if they're a resident, as they can continue their learning outside of the classroom.”

The University of Pittsburgh continues work on a $59 million, 559-bed residence hall at the corner of Fifth Avenue and University Place that is scheduled to open in fall 2013.

John Fedele, a Pitt spokesman, said the new residence hall was a priority in the school's 12-year plan for growth.

As part of its 10-year master plan, Carnegie Mellon University anticipates building three residential halls on its north campus. According to the plan, the new dorms — which are to be six stories tall and include 150,000 square feet — will be situated to create a quadrangle with Morewood Gardens, the school's largest residence hall.

Rod Dobish, Duquesne's executive director of facilities, said the school's building projects are born out of necessity, not extravagance.

“We've built a capital plan that allocates money over a period of time and some of these things were real needs that we had on campus,” Dobish said.

Des Places Hall features several environmentally friendly attributes, such as a solar panel that provides energy, elevators that generate electricity as they brake and water fountains with refillable water bottle stations.

Adam Wagner is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7956 or adamwagner@tribweb.com.

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