UC residence tower rises in high style

Calhoun Hall renovations mix innovation with sustainability for high-tech quality of life

While her commanding presence reigns tall as the highest point in Cincinnati, the University of Cincinnati’s Calhoun residence hall can be seen more than 20 miles away.

Known as the southern gateway to campus — where almost 3,000 students pass through on their way to U-square every day — the more than $80 million facelift now shines a light on the positive, modern features adorning the 16-story tower overlooking UC’s Uptown campus and surrounding city.

In less than two years, the original 172,967 square foot building was transformed from a curtain wall design built in the 1960s to proudly sporting an innovative new panelized facade, strategically designed according to the way the sun moves around the building. 

"As part of the new eco-friendly, high-tech sustainable design, each facade was designed to respond to solar angles and solar gain — all to more than maximize the amount of window space and light coming into the rooms and common space," says Carl Dieso, UC executive director of University Housing. 

Tower transformation

An additional 12,620 square feet on top of the existing 10,000 square foot ground floor lobby includes new reservable classroom space and additional entryways — making it UC’s largest residential lobby/lounge space on campus.

New living learning lounges, service centers, an outdoor terrace and resident amenities such as kitchen appliances and laundry facilities are just a few of the modern enhancements allowing students to conveniently collaborate, study and dine surrounded by the most modern amenities.

Rendering of UC's Calhoun Hall residence room with two beds, two desks and view of two windows.

Each room includes a microwave/refrigerator unit, as well as a bed, desk and wardrobe for each student. photo/provided

“The design of Calhoun Hall, particularly the lobby level, was imagined with the student experience front and center,” says Trent Pinto, director of UC resident education development. “Students today have been 'brought up’ on group projects, working together in teams and collaborating across disciplines. This design is indicative of that model and is meant to promote common workspace and collaboration.”

Standing over 192 feet high, the newly renovated Calhoun architecture provides 13 alternating male and female residential floors totaling 372 rooms for 792 students. Each floor has 29 rooms (four singles, four quads and 21 doubles), including a microwave/refrigerator unit in each room and a bed, desk and wardrobe for every student. 

“We are upgrading the building in a way that preserves the unit style so it doesn’t inflate the cost of attending UC,” says Dieso. “We’re not tearing it down and turning it into apartment living that would cost more. We’re maintaining the community style of living but bringing it into a modern look and feel so students can get access to the same type of support area and community space without having to pay more for it.”

Rendering of UC's Calhoun Hall lobby renovations featuring students and new furniture.

Calhoun Hall lobby welcomes students with fun and exciting collaborative meeting spaces. photo/provided

Other enhanced renovations include:

  • Health club style common bathrooms on each floor with private toilets and showers. Also, each floor has two fully outfitted enclosed bathrooms with a sink, toilet and shower behind a closed door and with a separate entrance.
  • The building space is larger with hallways now wide enough for two people to pass easily, allowing natural light filtering down the corridor to illuminate the space.
  • The central common areas on each floor extend from the north to the south allowing students to take advantage of external views from all angles.
  • A new gated south side plaza on Calhoun Street provides a private area for residents.
  • Also, a newly planned outdoor terrace on the northeast corner will provide a gathering space with outdoor seating.

Live and learn with peace of mind

Live-in advisors are available throughout the building to help solve resident concerns, and with 24-hour security employed around campus, students can enjoy a new live-and-learn environment in Calhoun Hall with peace of mind. For added safety to on- and off-campus areas after dusk, UC’s free Night Ride shuttle service currently makes 15 stops in a 25-minute loop around campus and can be accessed on Calhoun Street at the Corbett bus stop

According to student testimony, a key attraction for living in the Calhoun-Siddall campus gateway has also been the close proximity to UC’s campus dining. As students leave Calhoun’s ground level they are within 10 feet of entering the newly remodeled MarketPointe dining hall. After Siddall Hall renovations are completed in the next two years, an indoor bridge connecting Calhoun to Siddall will provide all residents easy access to MarketPointe.

“When MarketPointe’s 37,000 square-foot facility reopens in the spring of 2023, students will find a wide variety of new meal options, increased seating capacity and new food service equipment — all in a more modern environment,” says Katy Wahlke, director of food services in UC’s Campus Services.

Rendering of Calhoun Hall's lobby space with students and vending machines.

Vending machines and kitchen appliances give students a swift convenience with a homelike feel. photo/provided

Included in Calhoun Hall’s enhanced renovations are vending machines in the lobby directly adjacent to a new elaborate community kitchen. The kitchen space evokes a homelike feel with a large open cooking area complete with multiple stoves, ovens, refrigerators and freezers and a serving and seating area.

“Modernizing the space inside Calhoun also equips residents with gathering spaces such as the ‘live, learn, lounge’ on the lobby level with high top tables for a bistro feel,” says Dieso. “In addition, there are meeting spaces with TVs where students can set up gaming equipment or watch TV, a centralized laundry facility and office space for the building staff.”

Rendering of UC's Calhoun Hall meeting spaces in lobby level.

Live and learn meeting spaces provide students with a contemporary bistro feel. photo/provided

It might be the new dedicated lounge space, wider hallways with natural light filtering in or perhaps the enhanced health club type bathrooms that attract students to Calhoun’s new sustainable space.   

But the highest appeal for UC’s modern resident community may ultimately be the opportunity to make lifelong friends while living in an exciting high-tech environment just steps away from the most innovative tools available to be successful Bearcats.

“We worked with the architects to intentionally design space that will foster a true living-learning community,” says Pinto. “By constructing classroom space, more intimate meeting rooms and even working with the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences to meet the needs of their students in the Engineering Living-Learning Community, we are excited to engage with students in a manner that continues to meet the academic mission of the institution.” 

For more information about Calhoun Hall renovations


Featured image at top: Rendering of UC's Calhoun residence hall facade after renovations. photo/provided

UC Campus Services

Like an umbrella, Campus Services provides connected, self-sustaining operations and easily accessible services to meet the unique needs of faculty, staff and students. Those such as University Housing and Food Services play a significant role in students' decisions to commit to UC, as well as the positive future retention of successful Bearcats.


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