NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma’s newest student housing facility opened their doors Sunday for student athletes to begin moving in.
Headington Hall, located on Jenkins Avenue and Lindsey Street, will be home to 380 students this year, 180 of them student athletes.
The $75 million project, which was privately financed, was created with the idea of having all of the incoming student athletes under one roof, said Joe Castiglione, OU athletics director.
“We’re really trying to create an environment for student athletes and what they’re facing,” Castiglione said. “Not just for football, but for all sports.”
In a statement released by OU Football Coach Bob Stoops, he said Headington Hall is a “game-changer” for the university.
“Headington Hall is much more than a state-of-the-art residence hall, it’s a place that generations of Sooners will be able to call home,” Stoops said in the release. “We’ve all been eagerly watching the construction process from across the street from the Switzer Center. Our staff is anxious to have yet another first-class facility to further enhance the experience of our student-athletes at the University of Oklahoma.”
The football stadium is one view that is offered in many of the dorm rooms on the south side of the building. Jemma Cota, freshman soccer player, agreed that the view is nice, as well as her dorm room and the facility.
“This is amazing,” Cota said. “It’s fantastic.”
Cota is sharing the room with three other female soccer players in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom floorplan. Other floorplans include a two-bedroom, two-bathroom with just two people and a four-bedroom, four-bathroom with four people.
Castiglione said the facility is not the same student athlete housing facility that is across the street. He said it is an entirely different, bigger, more complex operation than they have ever had in the athletic department.
They are also producing a lot of synergy and trying to give students what they need to know and the process they must go through in order to live in the new facility, he said.
Non-athlete students are expected to move in during the campus’ big move-in day at the beginning of August.
The Grand Tour:
In the lobby of the main entrance a “guardian” is one of the first things visitors see. Castiglione said it is one of the few replicas that was left of the symbol that can be seen on top of the State Capitol.
He said they thought it was the perfect symbol for what they were planning to do and the role they had in creating the best, safest, most enjoyable living space for the students living there.
“Symbolically it’s the guardian watching over all of those students who come in here, through the doors of the facility,” Castiglione said.
The facility is one of the most energy efficient buildings on campus and is LEED-certified, which basically means it takes on a number of characteristics that are environmentally efficient.
Floors two through five consist of dorm rooms with small study areas and laundry rooms on each level. The top floor of the building, and most likely the floor with the best view of OU’s campus, will be used as a space for private functions.
The whole first floor is pretty much dedicated to public space and features the Sam Bradford Training Table, Academic Commons, Media Commons, a game room, a theater and faculty residence.
Something they deliberately excluded was a workout area for the students and student athletes. Castiglione said with the Houston Huffman just across the street, it was something they felt that was not needed in the facility.
Sam Bradford Training Table:
A state-of-the art dining facility, named the Sam Bradford Training Table, offers all students at Headington Hall the opportunity to eat more nutritional foods and fulfills dietary needs.
“We are especially excited about the Sam Bradford Training Table that will provide all of our OU sports programs with a true competitive advantage in terms of world-class nutrition,” Stoops said in the release.
Castiglione said they spent a lot of time talking to former athletes about how they approached their nutritional intake which led to the foundation for an entirely different approach at the facility.
Professional nutritionists got involved with creating the different stations in the dining area. The stations include a salad bar where fresh fruits and vegetables are prepared, a pizza and pasta station with a pizza oven right at the station, a grilling station, a station with a panini press and a smoothie station.
“There are lots of different options (students) are going to be able to utilize here,” said Bryan Hinnen, Director of Operations for Headington Hall. “They prepare the food right in front of you at each station.”
Academic Commons and faculty residence: An academic commons area allows a place for students can go study in a quiet area. Kelly Damphousse, faculty in residence, said the study room is like a smaller version of the Great Reading Room in the library.
“It’s my favorite room in this whole building,” he said.
Damphousse said the faculty-in-residence was started by President David Boren in 1996 in an effort to expand the sense of community on campus and have a more family-oriented atmosphere.
“He wanted to be able to have students and faculty to interact outside of the classroom,” Damphousse said.
Some of the dorm rooms in older dorm facilities were renovated to create an apartment but Headington Hall was designed with the apartment space included.
Damphousse said it would provide students with the opportunity to get a home-cooked meal from time to time or sometimes just come play with a dog or talk to a mom or a dad, maybe not their mom and dad, but having someone around who is a parent.
Theater: Hinnen said while many theaters in student housing may have been an old room in a basement converted with old sofas found on Craigslist, the theater in Headington Hall is a bit different.
“Having dedicated space for a movie theater is an absolutely amazing opportunity,” he said.
The theater will have a stadium feed and cable feed. Students can have watch parties for the teams while they’re gone, teams can get together in the room for team meetings and they’ve also talked about using the room for having press conferences, Hinnen said.
The theater-style seats also have a small desktop that can be pulled up from the side of the chair for taking notes so seminars can be held in the room as well.
Media Commons and game room:
Featuring a 90-inch television with the capability to split into four separate feeds, the media commons is something that Hinnen thinks will be the most popular room in the entire building.
“By all means I definitely see this as being one of the more commonly utilized rooms on the first floor,” Hinnen said.
He sees the game room as being the second most popular room.
“En route right now in a truck somewhere in the United States, not 100 percent sure where, are three custom-made pool tables and two custom-made ping pong tables,” he said.
There are also two gaming stations where students can bring down their game system and plug in to the HDMI cable to play on the TV’s in the room.
“The sound system is so advanced, when you take those cupboards off, you’ll actually see probably around 100 localized speakers. So basically, it’s supposed to be so advanced that if you’re sitting in one of those chairs, you’re the only one who can hear the game that’s going on,” he said.
While there is still some work being done on the exterior of the facility an open house is expected to be held in late September or early October.