Research shows undergraduate students are most likely to form lasting bonds—laying the groundwork for a strong alumni base—during their first two years. The University of St. Thomas is strategically strengthening those connections, nurturing community through thoughtful housing. They selected us to construct their new residence hall for second-year students, a complex design-build project also intended to demonstrate the university’s commitment to advanced green building standards. Simultaneously, the forward-thinking structure which is located on the University’s Saint Paul, MN campus, had to harmonize with century-old campus buildings.
The five-story Tommie East Residence Hall—clad in native Kasota stone and red brick and featuring handsome interior finishes—delivers on the university’s objectives with warm, bright, social spaces shared by 260 students. The main floor includes a community lounge with fireplace, game room and bike room.
Midway through construction—despite pressures related to the tight budget, fast schedule and COVID-19 protocols—we raised the bar, aiming for LEED-Platinum instead of LEED-Gold certification. Through extraordinary internal and external teamwork, we succeeded in making the necessary environmental modifications retroactively, without incurring scheduling delays. The building is currently one of just five in its category in the U.S. under LEED v4 to earn the distinction.