Clemson is a campus under construction
Today, Tillman Hall’s bell tower might still have the best view on campus, but its height in the campus skyline is rivaled by something built a little bit more recently — a crane. Anyone who has been on campus lately has probably seen the tall, yellow crane towering over the construction of what will be the Watt Family Innovation Center behind the library.
And the Watt Family Innovation Center is just one of several construction projects scattered across campus.
While all of the construction projects on campus share the goal of improving the University, each project is unique — some have even been in the plans for nearly a decade. On Clemson’s campus today, there are four major projects that are either underway or soon-to-be underway.
Situated behind Johnstone Hall and the Edgar A. Brown University Union, the construction of the Core Campus project has begun. The finished product will be a large, mixed-use housing and dining facility. The $96 million project will house approximately 700 students and include a large dining facility, as well as retail opportunities. The Core Campus Project will also provide a new home for the Calhoun Honors College.
“University housing and dining is proud to be in full partnership with our honors college colleagues in expanding our long-term, highly successful living-learning community from its current Holmes Hall space and expanding its scope to become Clemson’s first residential college,” said Doug Hallenbeck, associate vice president of student affairs and executive director of housing and dining.
As part of the University’s 20-year housing master plan, the new buildings eventually will supplant the last piece of Johnstone Hall, which will be demolished to make room for new projects. Hallenbeck believes the project will invigorate the center of campus and carry on Clemson’s vision for the future.
“In my mind it’s tremendously important. In order to recruit and bring in and keep the best and the brightest students, you need facilities that will meet their needs as well as their wants. We wanted to build something worthy of a top-20 institution,” he said.
The Core Campus project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2016.
The University plans to soon break ground on the Douthit Hills project, a mixed-use facility that will be built in the area behind the Clemson House, where a complex of duplex apartments once stood. The $212 million project focuses largely on housing. It will offer approximately 980 beds for upper-class students and approximately 750 beds for students in the Bridge to Clemson transfer program at Tri-County Technical College. In addition to housing, the project will include a satellite campus recreation center, a new bookstore, coffee shop and retail dining options.
Studies have shown that students who live on campus experience increased academic success, and Hallenbeck notes that this fact guided the University’s vision for Douthit Hills. Housing will be aimed at upper-class students, which are seen by many as underserved in campus housing, Hallenbeck stresses that an equally important part of the project is its inclusion of Bridge to Clemson students.
“In addition to keeping more upper-class students on campus, we also wanted to get the Bridge students onto campus,” said Hallenbeck. “We felt it was important that these students feel included.”
Douthit Hills, once construction is underway in earnest, is projected to take two-and-a-half years to complete, likely opening in either 2017 or 2018.
Freeman Hall Expansion
A $10 million renovation is underway on Freeman Hall, largely in response to the rapid growth in Clemson’s industrial engineering department. The project will add 21,000 square feet to the academic building, including room for offices, conference rooms and a 108-seat auditorium.
With the increase in available housing as well as the increased number of applications sent to Clemson, expansions and renovations to academic buildings are becoming necessary. Freeman’s expansion includes adding a new face on the front of the building facing Fernow Street as well as adding a third floor.
The Freeman Hall expansion is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2015 fall semester.
The Watt Family Innovation Center
Well underway and occupying the area between the R.M. Cooper Library and the Strom Thurmond Institute, the Watt Family Innovation Center might be the most noticeable construction on campus, fencing off the area between the Class of 1956 Academic Success Center and the South Palmetto Boulevard cul-de-sac. The center will total nearly 70,000 square feet and include high-tech spaces for collaborative work.
The mission of the center is “to create an environment where collaboration among students, faculty and leaders from industry and government agencies generates ideas and solves complex problems.” The space will be multi-disciplinary, providing flexible spaces for both students and faculty.
The Watt Family Innovation Center is scheduled to be open for use in the spring semester of 2016.
Other projects on campus include renovations to numerous athletic facilities, most notably to Doug Kingsmore Stadium and Memorial Stadium. Work is also being done to improve of the University’s amphitheater, and a new band plaza near the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts was recently completed.
If these projects seem different, they all seek the same ultimate goal: the improvement of Clemson both as a school and a home and helping advance Thomas Green Clemson’s vision of a “high seminary of learning.” Hallenbeck sees this construction as part in parcel of that vision.
“When you compete against other top-20 schools, the academic margin is so small; they’re all academically outstanding. Facilities like these can help push a school over the top,” he said.
Track the progress of campus construction projects in real time on the University’s webcams.