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New housing opens for CSB seniors

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August 17, 2012

Centennial Commons

The finishing touches on the new Centennial Commons student housing at the College of Saint Benedict are nearly complete.  Furnishings are in, the windows are sparkling and even the landscaping is well on its way. All this is in anticipation of the 124 seniors who will be moving into their apartments before the start of school Aug. 29.

The series of four townhome-style buildings is located off of College Avenue in St. Joseph, Minn. There are eight four-bedroom, four-person apartments in each building (in one of the buildings one of the apartments houses only the residence director).

The fifth building, which will be the last to be completed, is a Commons building, shared by the residents and the broader CSB community. The complex also has an outdoor grill, patio and fire pit.

The project was named in honor of CSB's upcoming centennial anniversary in 2013.

In addition, the individual townhome buildings have been named after four members of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict, founders of the college. These Benedictine sisters have had influential roles in the development of CSB:

  • S. Cecilia Kapsner, OSB, prioress of the monastery when the college was founded in 1913 who served as the first president;
  • S. Mary David Olheiser, OSB, established the elementary education major and served as first vice president of Academic Affairs;
  • S. Mary Anthony Wagner, OSB, one of the first women to earn a doctoral degree in theology and established the Benedictine Institute of Sacred Theology, which eventually became the graduate School of Theology•Seminary at Saint John's University; 
  • S. Lois Wedl, professor alumna of education, past residence hall director and current resident of Margretta Hall. She is perhaps best known as the Blazers No. 1 sports fan.

Once CSB decided in 2006 to move toward a four-year residency requirement, it became apparent that CSB needed to add more on-campus student housing. The class of 2014 is the first class to fall under the full four-year requirement.  "With the addition of Centennial Commons, we will house just over 90 percent of our students on campus or at one of our study abroad sites," said Jody Terhaar, CSB dean of students.

One unique feature is that each unit has been separately metered to monitor water usage, gas and electricity. Each unit will receive a monthly statement (not a bill) with their usage along with the averages of all the units so the students will be able to see how they compare with their classmates.

"We see this as part of the education process," Terhaar said.  "What can our students learn from each other about conservation and use of resources?  We want them to have conversations about lights being on, length of showers and the temperature of the living space."

The site has also been prepped for future plans which include the addition of a welcome center and moving athletic fields across College Avenue from the main campus.

All five buildings are in the process of becoming LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, a standard that rates buildings on their design, construction and operation. The four townhouses are being certified under the "LEED for Homes" process and the community building is being certified under "LEED New Construction."

Under the LEED certification process, features of the design and construction including energy efficiency, using local resources/materials, natural lighting, indoor air quality and recycling construction waste all earn the project LEED credit. For example, two storm-water ponds function together to capture storm-water and use it for irrigation, all appliances are Energy Star, construction material scraps are being recycled, and low-flow toilets and tankless water heaters are installed in each unit.

"We're building awareness of how we use our resources and the impact that has on people and places," said July Purman, CSB sustainability director.  "Our students will gain a hands-on understanding of the impacts of their lifestyle choices."

Centennial Commons Facts

Location: College of Saint Benedict, 300 College Ave. S., St. Joseph.

Dedication: Friday, Sept. 28, 3:30-5:30 p.m.

Description: Two-story, townhome style housing for 124 students and one full-time residence director.  Each fully furnished apartment accommodates four students and includes four bedrooms, two bathrooms, laundry, living room, kitchen and front porch.  The housing complex also includes a Commons Building that provides the community with gathering space, study rooms, computer lab, kitchen and a multi-purpose room. 

Cost with furnishings: $9,244,000.00

Total square footage: 52,167

Commons Building: 4,423

Townhomes: 1,492 per unit; 11,936 per building

Architect: DLR and Associates (Minneapolis)

General contractor: Sand Companies Incorporated (Waite Park)