, Salem, MA

March 8, 2013

New dorm on tap at SSU

Designers sought for building that would house 350 to 400 students

By Bethany Bray

---- — SALEM — Salem State University is looking to build a new dorm.

The university has begun to solicit interest from designers for a dorm to house 350 to 400 students.

The location and size of the building is yet to be determined and will depend on the design, said Tom Torello, vice president of marketing and communications at SSU.

“We know there’s a real demand (for student housing) out there. We were at capacity in our dorms this year,” Torello said. “Almost certainly, it will go on existing campus space. ... It’s really kind of open at this point, even (on) which campus it would be.”

The dorm is being planned within a long-range master plan being developed for the campus that extends through 2040. One of the goals of the long-range plan is to bring the university up to 50 percent residential — with half of its students living on campus, Torello said.

“This (new dorm) is just another step in that process,” Torello said.

SSU has roughly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

The last student dorm to be built at SSU, Marsh Hall, opened in 2010. This fall, the college had to turn people away after forming a 75-student waiting list for on-campus housing, Torello said.

Ideally, SSU would like to have the new residence hall open in 2015.

“That (2015) is an absolute best-case scenario,” Torello said.

Replies to SSU’s initial request for interest from designers are due March 21. The request, posted by the Massachusetts State College Building Authority, lists a construction budget of $36 million to $42 million, including base building, site development, construction management costs and contingency.

The request lists a tentative schedule of construction starting in the spring of 2014.

The college fully intends to discuss the new dorm designs, as they evolve, in public hearings and meetings with neighborhood groups, Torello said.

SSU is in the process of building a new library and fitness center on campus. Both buildings are slated to open in the fall.

The old library building is also slated to be demolished — SSU is in the process of choosing a demolition contractor, Torello said.

Bethany Bray can be reached at and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.