Moving into a dorm every September is an exciting time, but when that dorm is brand-spanking new, the level of anticipation is palpable.

Those lucky enough to snag a room in the $40 million Dugmore Hall on the corner of Dean Nicholson Boulevard and Wildcat Way will be treated to the hard work of designers, facilities workers, contractors and more as they try not to scratch any paint on the way in.

The building, named after longtime CWU professor William Dugmore, who died in 2018, has 402 beds, with 144 double rooms, 60 double rooms with bathrooms and four single rooms. It’s the largest building of its kind on campus, totaling 105,000 square feet, with the new Barto Hall now the second biggest coming in at 364 beds.

The building features laundry facilities on each floor, as well as a communal kitchen on the first floor. Throughout the hall, students will be able to explore study “nooks” as well as lounges and study rooms. Each floor has two all-gender bathrooms, as well as two gendered bathrooms.

Housing director Tricia Rabel said her department learned a lot from what worked and what didn’t with the last big opening of Barto Hall in 2012.

“We found that students loved the room configuration of Barto, but students wanted more natural light,” Rabel said. “So you’ll see throughout the building … there’s lots of light.”

Students also requested places to tuck away and study. These natural study “nooks” are becoming popular in modern residence halls, and allow students to find quiet spaces around the hall with furniture, rather than a larger, more communal study environment.

“They don’t necessarily want a huge one room lounge to hang out in,” Rabel said. “They want to feel like this is my living room, this is my little study area — they want smaller areas to congregate in.

Prior to Friday, residence advisers had been living there for a couple weeks, exploring and getting the lay of the land.

“That’s always the test, actual people living here,” Rabel said with a laugh.

Walking around the first floor, the influence of the Kittitas Valley is immediately noticeable. Rebel said the designers took color cues from the local environment, including barn quilts.

Each of the four floors has a different accent, either red, yellow, green or blue, which can be seen on the floors, walls and the ceilings of each room.

Even the mailboxes have a local touch. If you take a step back, the mailboxes make out the shape of the Stuart mountain range.

Other features of the dorm rooms include locally sourced mattresses from Oregon Mattress, and all the wooden furniture is built by Wood Products in Ellensburg. Of course, for those familiar with CWU dorms, the classic MicroFridge with a freezer and microwave are also present, albeit a fancier new model with an outlet and USB chargers.

“Every year they get a new feature,” Director of Housing Facilities Joe Bach said. “This year’s model has smoke sensors in them, so if you start to burn popcorn it turns it off — before the lightning starts.”

For those looking to eat something that wasn’t microwaved themselves, they an head across the courtyard to the new adjacent dining facility. The new Northside Commons is a 6,000-square-foot building that will house an 1891 Cafe and Market as well as a Panda Express.

“They had done a survey a few years ago where students ranked the food they were interested in,” Rabel said. “No. 1 was Panda Express, so they started talking and came up with a contract and it’s all good to go.”

A few finishing touches are still ongoing, including landscaping which Rabel said should be wrapping up in October. The building used the majority of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards that were awarded a platinum status for Barto, including the same paint, water controls, electrical controls, dimmer switches and auto lights, but Rabel said the university probably won’t pay for the certification this time around.

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