Incoming University of Kentucky students will see two new dorms open on campus next week, capping off a $450 million public/private partnership to provide more housing on campus.
Lewis Hall, on the corner of Hilltop and University, is a new base for honors students, who were formerly part of a program, but have been elevated to college status, thanks to a $23 million gift from donor and alum Tom Lewis.
The dorm will house 346 students, as well as the administrative and counseling offices of the Lewis Honors College. That includes newly hired Dean Christian Brady, who just arrived in Lexington a few weeks ago.
The new building “is a great expression of what we’re building,” for students, Brady said, because it will allow professors, counselors, speakers and students to interact. A huge glass atrium can switch from classrooms to speaking space to room for a gala dinner.
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Brady, who spent the last 10 years overseeing the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University, said he came to UK for the chance to build the college from scratch.
“It’s a great opportunity to build the best honors college in the country,” said Brady, who is also a scholar of ancient Hebrew and Jewish literature.
Next door to the Lewis building is the new University Flats compound. One wing will house graduate students in studio and one-bedroom apartments, while another features four-bedroom apartments for sophomores, juniors and seniors. In the continuing rise of luxury student accommodations, the common spaces resemble a country club, with an outdoor fireplace and TV, patio furniture, a sand volleyball court, pool table and ping pong. And like UK’s other new dorms, all the rooms have Tempur-Pedic mattresses.
In 2012, UK partnered with Education Realty Trust, a national dorm-building firm, to build thousands of new rooms on campus. EdR, as it’s known, provided all the equity for construction, in return for long-term leases to operate and maintain the buildings. On average, UK receives about 12 percent of EdR’s gross revenue. The total cost of construction has now reached $450 million for 6,850 new beds.