The College’s new strategic plan, “Foundations for Kenyon’s Third Century,” includes a goal of “reaffirming the College’s commitment to residential education with improvements to both the physical and programmatic components of residential life.” Housing plans reflect student input and meet Kenyon’s long-term sustainability goals to create more inclusive, accessible, and resilient student communities. The new buildings will be built to Duke University’s High Performance Building Framework for sustainability. They are designed to provide students with an exceptional residential experience during a time in which community and personal connection have become more meaningful than ever before. 

Six trees were removed in association with the Bexley Hall Renovations. Many of the trees were in poor condition and/or conflict with the new accessible routes to the building.  

The location of new buildings behind and offset with Old Kenyon was identified in the most recent Campus Master Plan in 2014 and key features were reaffirmed in the recent comprehensive housing study. Overall, student respondents preferred South Campus as the location for additional housing. 

The goal of the Campus Master Plan is to create a balance of housing between the historic South Campus and the areas north of Wiggin Street. As the sole dining venue on campus, Peirce Hall is the relative center of student life. By creating more housing in the South Campus, the campus-wide housing mix will be better balanced, with additional opportunities for students to immerse themselves in the life of the academic core.

The new residence halls are designed in accordance with the Duke University High Performance Building Framework, sharing many similarities to the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED v4.0 and v4.1 systems. 

Plan highlights include:

Energy Use and Performance: Lighting control systems, building mechanical control systems, and building envelope performance were prioritized when setting the sustainability goals for these buildings.

Future Renewables: The buildings are designed with the future in mind, so that they can easily be converted to a large ground source geothermal system or centralized condenser water system. The new residence halls will also connect our privately owned power distribution infrastructure for South Campus and Meadow Lane (Lowry Center, Bolton Theater, Hill Theater, Peirce Hall, and Ascension Hall) in preparation for a large-scale solar photovoltaic system in the years to come.

Removing Manning and Bushnell halls will allow for the construction of new buildings designed with educational and social spaces that create community and help to enhance academic outcomes. While we are currently building only three of the four residence halls outlined in the master plan, with the third to begin construction in July 2024, the site is being prepared now for future construction. There are not only economies in this approach but also fewer disruptions to campus.

Plans to expand and improve South Campus housing will require the clearing of approximately seven acres of trees mostly within the wooded hillside along the southwest edge of campus, both for building footprints and for changes to the South Campus road and path network.

About 20 trees were cleared during spring break so that bats would not be affected when they returned to the area in the spring and summer. Remaining trees will be cleared following Commencement and Reunion Weekend, with the remaining site work planned to get underway this summer. 

Kenyon is committed to substantial mitigation measures, such as restoration of wooded areas on nearby College-owned land and protection of the carbon sequestration capacity of existing or future College-owned lands by formal measures such as conservation easements through the College’s land trust, the Philander Chase Conservancy.

As much as possible, these mitigation measures will proceed in tandem with the South Quad project as opposed to waiting until after the housing project is completed.

The Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) is a medium-sized mouse-eared bat native to North America. During the winter, Indiana bats hibernate in a small number of caves, but during the summer, their range includes all of Ohio and they may roost in trees such as those found on Kenyon’s campus, where they provide benefits as insectivores. A study of the wooded area to be cleared has been conducted by an independent ecologist and reviewed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to ensure that nesting habitats of the Indiana bat are not disturbed during the tree removal process.

Five of the seven affected acres will be replanted with trees that will re-establish the wooded landscape on that side of campus. The balance of the carbon sequestration capacity of the harvested forest will be regained or exceeded by converting some of the College’s agricultural lands to forest, acquiring and preserving additional woodlands, or a combination of these measures. The Office of Green Initiatives and the Vice President for Facilities, Planning and Sustainability Ian Smith will oversee these plans.