Gold shovels went into the soggy ground on Wednesday afternoon, marking the start of a historic construction project for Marquette University. It’s been 50 years since Marquette has built a new residence hall—believe it or not, McCormick Hall, which opened to students in 1968, is the newest residence hall on campus.
Despite rainy weather, dozens of faculty, staff, students, community members and project partners gathered at the construction site for Marquette’s new residence hall facility, located just south of Wells Street between 17th and 18th Streets. The $96 million co-ed facility for first-year and sophomore students will feature two 375-bed towers connected through the lower levels by dining and campus community space.
Lora Strigens, vice president for planning and strategy, welcomed the group and shared her excitement for the project. “This really is a historic day for Marquette University,” Strigens said, noting that this is the first building project to come out of the university’s new master plan. “I’m personally very proud that our first master plan project is truly for our students.”
Echoing the emphasis on the student experience, Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Xavier Cole said, “We’re not just building a building—we’re creating a home for 750 freshman and sophomore students every year. For many, it will be their first home away from their parents. For all, it will be a place where friendships are forged and memories are made.”
President Michael R. Lovell underscored the project’s connection to the university’s vision and its strategic plan, Beyond Boundaries. “For Marquette University to be among the top Catholic and Jesuit institutions in the world, it all must start with the student experience. We have to think and act differently, and embrace new ways of living and learning for our community,” he said.
The groundbreaking was preceded by a prayer and blessing delivered by Rev. Nicolas Santos, S.J. Also participating in the ceremonial dig was Lauren Jones, Arts ’18, president of the Residence Hall Association, along with members of the project team, comprising architect and design firms Baltimore-based Design Collective and Milwaukee’s Workshop Architects, and local construction management firm J.H. Findorff & Son Inc.
The building is set to open in time for the fall 2018 semester. Following that, the university will develop a plan to raze McCormick Hall, Strigens said.