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Broken ground on Lilac Hill marks beginning of Phase I of the Student Life and Housing Plan

Earlier this month, construction crews broke ground on Lilac Hill, indicating the beginning of the construction of Phase I of the Student Life and Housing Plan that sets out to “improve the student residential experience, create more equity in student housing, establish Black and multicultural centers, and invest in a new Student Health and Counseling Center to better support students’ mental and physical wellness.”


Phase I specifically focuses on building capacity: 107 beds will be built at the Lilac Hill site and 33 at the north end of the Union Street site. This phase will include all the Lilac Hill buildings and two of the five buildings on Union Street. Construction began this term, and Phase I will be completed by August 2024. This phase of the plan has been budgeted at $57 million.


Director of Facilities Steven Spehn described the nature of the housing currently under construction at Lilac Hill: “All units, except for one, are 13 bed units and there will be two units per building, except for two of the buildings.”


Those involved prioritized a number of facets in the design of the Lilac Hill and Union Street housing. Dean Livingston commented that, in no particular order, “[w]e took into consideration the construction of Farm House, the carbon footprint of new construction [and] increasing the availability of draw housing.” She elaborated that “[t]he only designated housing in the Lilac Hill development is Farm House. All other housing in Lilac Hill are draw houses.”


The sustainability initiatives pursued throughout the Student Life and Housing Plan are of particular interest and serve to bolster Carleton’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. The housing units at Lilac Hill will feature solar panels. However, the ones




on Union Street will not, due to “design issues that are required by the City’s land development code,” Spehn explained.


Despite the slight setback, many other mechanisms to reach the impressive sustainability goals put forth in the plan will be implemented, as laid out by Spehn: “Both sites are being built to Passive House sustainability standards, which focuses on reducing energy consumption through super-insulated walls and roofs, energy-efficient windows, eliminating unwanted air infiltration and selecting energy-efficient heating systems with heat recovery. We hope the Lilac Hill site will achieve a net-zero energy use, meaning we will generate more energy at the site than will be used.”


The solar panels and sustainability goals inform the architectural choices and style of housing under construction, particularly the Lilac Hill site. “The architecture at the Lilac Hill site was designed to support the installation of the solar panels and to maximize their efficiency. You see this in the roof design and placement of the buildings. The architecture for the Union Street site is dictated by the city’s land development code to be compatible with the adjacent residential zoning. This site is more traditional homestyle architecture with two stories and gabled/peaked roofs,” Spehn said.


Aside from sustainability initiatives, a variety of bed sizes, unit sizes and types of bedrooms were given weight in the design process. Spehn touched on even more aspects that were taken into account: “Creating generous and welcoming common-space areas such as kitchens, dining rooms, and living room areas. It was also important to develop other common spaces to support multicultural programs and to keep these spaces separate from student living spaces, such as the multicultural center that is included in one of the buildings at Union Street.”


Aside from the beginning of construction of Phase 1, there have been no major updates or changes to the Student Life and Housing Plan. Construction on the Union Street buildings will begin in June and updated site plans and renderings are available here; the Lilac Hill construction map can be viewed here.

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