A $75 million upperclassman residence hall slated for construction in October will be the most expensive residence hall ever constructed by the University.
The 10-story building, which will be located adjacent to the School Without Walls on F Street, will house more than 400 students. The high price tag is largely the result of increasing construction costs and many extra amenities, said Lou Katz, executive vice president and treasurer.
On a per-bed basis, this new residence hall and the recently approved Pelham Hall renovation will each be about double the cost of recently erected buildings on campus. Whereas Ivory Tower and Potomac House cost less than $90,000 per bed to construct, this new residence hall is projected to surpass $150,000, said Nancy Haaga, managing director of Campus Support Services. Pelham Hall will likely reach more than $120,000 per bed, according to figures from the capital budget.
Haaga said construction costs have been increasing steadily in recent years, and there is no reason to wait until they grow higher.
"The best time to construct buildings in the D.C. area is always now," Haaga wrote in an e-mail. "Buildings constructed in the future will always cost more to construct than they do now."
More than 80 precent of the capital budget until 2011 - $126 million - is allocated for student housing.
This new residence hall will include apartment-style suites with four single rooms. It will also have private kitchens, washers and dryers. Part of the high cost's to the extra space in each unit, something students said they wanted in the past, Katz said.
Also contributing to the cost is $10 million for a three-story underground parking garage. Katz said the structure is necessary to replace a pre-existing garage on 22nd Street, which will be demolished as the University carries out its Campus Plan. The new garage will contain nearly 200 parking spots - a cost of $50,000 per space.
Other features in the building include power jacks for electric cars, motion-detecting light fixtures, a bicycle storage facility and low-flow toilets.
Seth Weinshel, a director of GW Housing Programs, said students have shown they want single bedrooms in the past.
"GW Housing Programs has heard from students in the past that they desire single bedrooms," Weinshel said. "During iHousing, the number one most popular option was for singles with private kitchens."
Weinshel also said other buildings with similar amenities to the ones planned in the new residence hall are already highly requested by students.
"GW has two other buildings that have private washers and dryers and the students that live in those buildings like the convenience," he said. "Obviously when building a new building, if you can provide more square footage per unit then you will try and do that."
Professor Young Kwak, who teaches project management in the School of Business, said high construction costs are due to an increase in the price of raw materials.
"Back in the old days - old days being five to 10 years ago - steel prices had been steady. Steel, copper, cement, all those things have been steady," he said. "It's only been the past three, four years those prices have picked up because of the overall economy."
Kwak said in the past few years the prices of these raw materials have doubled not only in the D.C. area but also nationwide. Kwak added that the rising cost of oil increases transportation costs and the scarcity of specialized labor adds to the mounting costs of construction.
"The oil price also greatly contributes to the increase in price: it's about $82 per barrel."
The University projects construction of this new residence hall will be complete by fall 2009.
Eric Roper contributed to this report.