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City's first residence hall completed in just 22 months.

An innovative, privately-funded partnership has fast tracked the development of City College of New York's first ever residence hall by utilizing design and construction techniques used for high rise residential projects.

The result is a $56 million, 600-bed student residence hall known as The Towers, which opened its doors to students this September, just 22 months after the team was selected.

Historically a commuter campus in Morningside Heights, representatives City College of New York understood that, if it was to boost its science and design programs, it would need to provide housing for students working late into the night in laboratories and design studios.

The Towers answers that need, providing 245 one-, two-, and four-bedroom suites arranged as standard residential apartments, with shared kitchen, bathroom and living room areas. Students also share use of a laundry, exercise room and a large lounge, and can take advantage of the site's landscaped terraces for outdoor recreational downtime.

The project was spearheaded by Capstone Development Corporation, of Birmingham, AL, which provides campus financing, development and management services to colleges around the country. For The Towers project, Capstone coordinated a complex financing deal, brought on board the design and construction team and now provides on-site management of the facility.

Providing Capstone with a local presence for the project was Goshow Architects who, as Architects of Record, managed an extensive design and construction team that included Baltimore-based architects, Design Collective Inc., and construction managers, Turner Construction.

With less than two years to produce a building ready for occupancy, Goshow Architects employed a number of means to speed the facility's design and construction.

Its first step was to forgo standard dormitory construction methods, exemplified by wooden-frame buildings, and opt instead for techniques more commonly employed for building commercial and high-rise residential properties. Thus, flat slab concrete was used to form the 180,000 sq. ft, building's core, which comprises three interlocking sections rising five, eight, and eleven stories, while the stepped facade was clad in pre-fabricated exterior wall panels that enabled the structure to be enclosed in a matter of mere weeks.

Goshow Architects' other main time-efficiency policy was to develop both the design documents and the construction documents in tandem so that construction could begin immediately once the design had been finalized. Goshow's team, headed by Steven Derasmo, AIA, closely collaborated and coordinated all of the project's consultants to ensure that the construction drawings were as comprehensive as possible to avoid unnecessary and unexpected delays and complications.

At a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the new residence hall, City College officials praised The Towers' team for achieving what many had claimed would be unachievable in such a short period of time.

"The excellence of this project is thanks to the professionalism and dedication of Goshow Architects," said Dr. Lois S. Cronholm, senior vice president and COO of City College. The students appear to be giving The Towers a vote of confidence, too. Just two months after opening, the new residence hall is close to being fully occupied."
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Title Annotation:SPECIAL REPORT: Medical & Education Facilities
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Nov 1, 2006
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