Coming soon: Phase 1 construction of Meridian Village

Laura Studley

If you’ve been by Aylesworth Hall this past semester, you might’ve noticed one slight change about it; it doesn’t exist anymore.

In fact, Aylesworth has been reduced to nothing more than a large fenced-in dirt patch, marking the beginning of phase one of the Meridian Village project, which will begin construction in April. Along with the deconstruction of Aylesworth, Newsom Hall will also be demolished to make way for Meridian Village.

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The entire project, separated into two phases, is estimated to be completed in the mid to late 2020s, said Nick Sweeton, associate executive director of Housing & Dining Services.

There are multiple reasons for the redevelopment of both Aylesworth and Newsom Hall, including the age and quality of the buildings and the increased amount of students who are required to live on campus or who want to return to on-campus residence at Colorado State University after their first year, said Christie Mathews, director of outreach and projects for Housing & Dining Services.

“These sites presented a great opportunity,” said Laura Bently, project manager of Housing & Dining Facilities. “Now, all of a sudden, we can fit more people by acre by building different buildings than we could by keeping the same buildings.” 

Housing & Dining is focusing on wellness by putting intentionality to the body, the mind and the spirit through the design of Meridian Village, Mathews said. 

We’re creating a continuation of this village environment heading toward main campus and the academic spine. Thinking in the grand master plan scheme, it just starts to connect the buildings a little bit more.” -Laura Bently, project manager, Housing & Dining Services

Phase one concerns the Aylesworth site, with three new buildings planned to be erected in place of the previous dorm/office complex. It will have approximately 1,100 bed spaces, and students will be able to move in during the fall of 2022, Sweeton said. 

“At this point, we’re pretty close to being done with the schematic design piece, which is sort of like having the blueprints ready so that we’re ready to pull the trigger on starting a build, then of course know what we’re building,” Sweeton said.

The first phase was approved by the Board of Governors in October 2019, which allotted $140 million toward the first part of Meridian Village, according to Sweeton.

The budget for phase two is still unclear. 

Phase two will include the demolition of Newsom Hall. The building that will replace Newsom will add 500 beds, a community hub and a new dining center. The Board of Governors’ approval for the second phase is projected to happen sometime in 2021, Bently said. 

The second site is estimated to be open for students to move in during the fall of 2025, Bently said.

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“We’re creating a continuation of this village environment heading toward main campus and the academic spine,” Bently said. “Thinking in the grand master plan scheme, it just starts to connect the buildings a little bit more.” 

Pod model

Meridian Village will introduce a new housing model called “pods,” the first of its kind at CSU. The pod concept will make up roughly half of the spaces within Meridian Village, Sweeton said. The other half will be traditional double-loaded quarters, similar to other residence halls. 

The bedrooms will be smaller than traditional residential spaces, with the extra square footage added to a communal area, Sweeton said.

“Essentially, we are trying to design these pods like a home living environment for a lot more people than you would have in your average home,” Bently said. 

There will be 37 residents within each pod. The pod will allow students to share a common living space alongside their private bedroom quarters. It will also include a gender neutral community bathroom.

“Rather than just having a corridor with rooms up and down the hallway, there’s actually a room like a living room or a community room where the students are able to come together and spend time together in that space,” Mathews said. 

We know that if students feel more connected to each other, (they’re) more likely to be successful (and) more likely to stay at CSU.” -Nick Sweeton, associate executive director, Housing & Dining Services

The way the pod model is currently designed, the bedroom quarters will be located around a horseshoe shape with each pod facing each other, Bently said.  

Sweeton said the idea behind the pod model is to construct a community that fosters social interaction between students.

“We know that if students feel more connected to each other, (they’re) more likely to be successful (and) more likely to stay at CSU,” Sweeton said.

Meridian Avenue reconstruction 

As the project title states, once the project is finished, it will be a village.

To make Meridian Village feel more like a complete residence, Sweeton said Meridian Avenue will be realigned east of the Aylesworth site near Braiden Hall, with the intersection of Pitkin Street and Meridian Avenue adapted to a pedestrian thoroughfare.

“There will be some passageway through there,” Mathews said. “There won’t be traffic driving through the community. We’re not eliminating the ability to drive through that side of campus. We’re just moving where that access would be.”

According to estimations by Bently, Meridian Avenue will be realigned either in the summer of 2021 or 2022 depending on phase two’s approval.

Laura Studley can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @laurastudley_.