The newly dubbed Brandt Residence Hall, named in honor of former President Dave Brandt, who served at George Fox from 1998 to 2007, will feature room for 146 beds and study rooms in each wing of all three floors. It’s scheduled for completion in August 2015 – just in time for new students to move in.
Recent graduate Ryan Rudnick (’14) takes a moment to survey the vast construction site taking shape on the east side of campus. To his right, a new three-story residence hall has risen up, still partially surrounded by scaffolding. To his left, ground is being prepared for not only a 30,000-square-foot dining hall that will overlook Hess Creek Canyon, but also a 220-foot bridge that will span the canyon to better connect the new buildings on the east side of campus to the west.
“It’s like coming back to friends and family,” says Rudnick, an employee of engineering consulting firm KPFF, which assigned him the task of designing the civil engineering elements of all three projects. “I was really blessed by George Fox and want to give back, so I asked for a lot of responsibility with these projects.”
Don’t worry, Hess Creek isn’t flooding. This bridge is located in Chugach National Forest in Alaska, and at 280 feet is the longest clear-span timber bridge in the U.S. The Hess Creek bridge will look just like it, but will measure 220 feet long. It’s scheduled for completion in August 2015.
But Rudnick isn’t the only one with a George Fox connection donning a hard hat. Bryan Kasler, also a 2014 graduate, is working on the dining hall and bridge as a project engineer for Andersen Construction, managing budgets, coordinating with the design team and hiring subcontractors, among many other responsibilities. “It’s been pretty surreal,” says Kasler, taking in the construction site that has been his second office for the past several months. “I loved ‘the Bon,’ so it’s cool to be building a new one.”
In addition to Rudnick and Kasler, engineering major and starting Bruin quarterback Grant Schroeder will spend his summer on the construction site as an intern for Andersen.
It’s only fitting that so many Bruins will have a hand in reshaping the campus they love. The goal, after all, is to maintain the same feeling of community that Rudnick, Kasler and Schroeder have enjoyed during their time at George Fox while continuing to improve and expand facilities to accommodate the record growth the university has experienced over the past three years.
George Fox has seen a 45 percent growth in first-time freshmen since 2009, contributing to a record enrollment of 3,793 total students last fall, including 2,219 traditional undergraduates.
The new dining hall will feature large windows overlooking Hess Creek Canyon, known by students for its towering trees and peaceful walking trails. Plans call for the facility to be built seamlessly into its surroundings while disturbing as little of the natural beauty as possible. The space will seat 900 and include a main dining area, smaller meeting spaces and a cafe. Plans call for construction to be completed in summer 2016.
“Building [a new dorm] will allow us to keep more of our undergraduates, primarily sophomores, on campus rather than assigning them to off-campus housing,” says university president Robin Baker. “In doing so, we feel we’re providing more opportunities for first- and second-year students to more fully engage in on-campus events and activities.”
Likewise, a dining facility with more than twice the seating capacity will better accommodate those same underclassmen, most of whom take advantage of the university’s meal plan.
Wooden beam construction and expansive skylights designed to emulate the pattern of light shining through tree branches will pay homage to and fully utilize the facility’s scenic surroundings.
And while this first phase of construction will provide a solid foundation for many years to come, even more work is planned in the near future – including a new student activity center, complete with basketball courts, an indoor suspended track and meeting spaces for student government and clubs.
“It’s an incredible opportunity,” says Schroeder, who will continue working on-site until it’s time to report back to the football team in August. “I get to be involved in something that’s going to eventually benefit me and my classmates.”