Summer 2020 has been a challenging time for U.S. colleges and universities as COVID-19 has continued to generate uncertainty ahead of the school year. UNC Wilmington is among the universities across the country welcoming some students to campus this August, with a focus on the first-year experience and with COVID-19 safety measures in place.
Many incoming freshmen are moving into Pelican and Sandpiper Halls – two new residence buildings designed to promote student engagement and academic success. With the capacity to house more than 1000 students, the facilities include large meeting rooms, study rooms, and several maker spaces that support a positive learning and living environment for students.
Clark Nexsen maintained the traditional, Georgian vernacular of campus in the design of the two symmetrical H-shaped buildings.
The halls are organized by “pods,” a layout that reinforces a strong sense of community for freshmen. Each pod accommodates roughly 32 students in traditional, double occupancy rooms and contains a spa bathroom core (shared but private facilities that are centrally located), as well as its own lounge. Furniture has been removed from common spaces for social distancing.
The pod design enables students to build deeper connections with each other and presents an opportunity to create a unique pod identity, promoting strong school spirit, social engagement, and retention.
Sandpiper Hall includes Port City Java and Pelican Market for quick access to snacks, beverages, and some hot menu items.
The new Student Housing Village is being delivered under a public-private partnership with Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions. The complex is representative of a key shift taking place in the student housing market to create student life facilities geared at setting freshmen and sophomore students up for academic success. Phase 2 is currently under construction and anticipated to open August 2021. This phase will add two, five-story, semi-suite buildings that will house approximately 770 primarily sophomore students and includes a student success center.
UNCW built extra flexibility into its reopening strategies and is implementing numerous measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The school is providing masks (in school color teal) and regular updates to the Seahawk community while emphasizing the three Ws: WEAR face coverings; WAIT six feet apart; and WASH your hands often. However, UNCW officials have stated that if cases of COVID-19 climb as they did at UNC-CH, they are prepared to transition to online-only instruction.