New Student Housing Includes Military and Civilian Component

Construction on seven buildings at the North Georgia College & State University campus in Dahlonega, Ga., is entering the home stretch.

Dahlonega, Ga.—Construction on seven buildings at the North Georgia College & State University campus in Dahlonega, Ga., is entering the home stretch. The properties, began by developer Ambling University Development Group in 2009, will be ready for occupancy in time for the 2012-13 academic year, beginning next August.

The project includes both new student housing—both new and renovated—a new dining hall, structured parking and a mixed-use facility. The buildings, designed by the Atlanta office of architecture firm Lord, Aeck & Sargent (LAS), are part of a $69.85 million, two-phase public/private venture financed through the sale of municipal bonds by the North Georgia College & University Real Estate Foundation. Debt service repayment is coming from fees paid for by the use of the buildings.

According to the university, the buildings will answer the need to house and feed North Georgia’s rapidly growing enrollment, which has increased from 5,500 students in fall semester 2008 to more than 6,100 in fall 2011. To complicate things, North Georgia is one of only six senior military colleges in the United States, and couldn’t grow its Army ROTC cadet corps without more military housing, which is a required component of the cadets’ training. The student housing component thus includes both military and civilian facilities.

The new buildings also needed to fit into the diverse historic character of Dahlonega, a town that owes its existence the Georgia Gold Rush of the 1820s, and the sprawling, 50-building North Georgia campus. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, the campus location also posed considerable topographical challenges, according to LAS. Moreover, the existing campus architecture at North Georgia represents different eras dating back to the 19th century, and none are over four stories.

One of the more unusual components of the development was the interior renovation and exterior restoration of Gaillard Hall, an historic residence hall designed in the 1950s by the late Richard Aeck, a renowned Atlanta-based architect and the founder of LAS’s predecessor firm. The renovation of the 48,000-square foot, three-story Gaillard Hall will provide 166 beds and transform the traditional dorm-style layout to suite-style accommodations.

“The historic value of mid-20th century modern architecture is being increasingly recognized nationally and internationally,” Joe Greco, president of LAS and principal in charge of the project, tells MHN. “In addition to the cultural value, preserving significant architecture from the past is often a better long-term investment for the client. It often results in a better quality and longer life facility than new construction for the same price point, and is the greenest, most sustainable approach.”

Specifically, Greco continues, in the case of Gaillard Hall, “preserving the building preserves the best example of mid-20th century modern architecture on the campus. The structure’s significant site overlooking the historic Drill Field is an important part in the campus history. Gaillard’s exceptionally sound structure and basic spatial configuration has shown to be efficiently adaptable to unit configurations that are attractive to students.”