Dormitory living has come a long way since the drab, narrow halls and cramped, uninviting rooms that many of us remember from our own collegiate years. Just ask the University of Louisville students who are starting their Fall 2012 semester as residents of the luxurious new student housing facility, Cardinal Towne.
Located on Cardinal Boulevard between Third and Fourth Streets, the block-wide building is a short walk from the Universityâ€™s Belknap Campus, and brings the area another step closer to becoming the distinctive collegiate destination sought after with efforts such as UofL President Dr. Ramseyâ€™s widespread campus revitalization projects. Student-friendly eateries, including Quills Coffee, Qdoba, Jimmy Johns, The Comfy Cow and Papalinoâ€™s Pizza line the first floor of the building, inviting young adults to gravitate in and stick around, rather than head away from campus to areas like the Highlands for their fast-food fix. A Cardinal Shop offers newly-moved-in students spirit-wear and accessories, without having to make a trip to the on-campus bookstore. Aside from the student apartments sitting just above, the colorful, inviting and youthful decor inside haunts like Quills Coffee, all by Barry Wooley designs, make the complex a natural destination for young people already in the midst of a busy semester.
In addition to the main student living complex â€“ a new building, developed by IPA Investment Group and marketed toward underclassmen looking for a dorm-like environment â€“ the adjacent Cardinal Towne â€œClassicsâ€ buildings sit next door, in historic Old Louisville residences that have been remodeled to offer modern conveniences while still retaining their old-fashioned appeal with original features like sleek wooden paneling, marble fireplaces and even stained glass windows. The â€œClassicsâ€ offer a house-like environment and are meant to appeal toward older graduate students, groups such as fraternities and organizations requiring office space. Both the â€œClassicsâ€ and the main complex back up to a large common patio area and swimming pool, open to all Cardinal Towne residents and complete with cabana-style seating, loungers and grilling space.
Inside the main complex, student-friendly amenities abound, with rooms dedicated to just about everything a college kid could want. â€œWe actually surveyed students and asked them what they wished they had in their dorms,â€ explained Cardinal Towneâ€™s designer, Barry Wooley. The surveyâ€™s responses prompted Wooley and his team to create everything from an austere, modern study room filled with walled cubicles like one might find in a library, to a casual work-space with tables and chairs for partnered studying, to a lively student game room that holds both pool and foosball tables, cushy seating, flat-screen TVs and creative wall decor such as table-tops repurposed as basketball-themed art. Requests for a fitness room prompted Wooley to create multiple exercise spaces, all equipped for different kinds of activity. A large gym on the first floor holds most of the traditional exercise machines, while down the hall a smaller Cardio Room, featuring treadmills and a seated pedaling machine, caters to students looking primarily for that type of workout. A Group Fitness room with mirrored walls and floor cushions will host free classes in skills like Karate and self-defense, is perfect for yoga and other group exercises, and may even be opened up in the future to the surrounding community as a reservable space for â€œmommy meet-upsâ€ and the like.
Perhaps the most popular item on the housing wish-list, however, was the movie theater, a dream which Wooley and his team brought to life for the students in Cardinal Towne. Heavy curtains, film-themed decor, automatic lighting, tiered sofa seating and an enormous TV screen make the â€œhomeâ€ theater a decidedly pleasant alternative to the average college kidâ€™s laptop movie screening in a dim classroom or dorm room. Multiple student lounge areas, all uniquely decorated with eye-catching colors and casually inviting furnishing, some recycled from dormitory building storage and some purchased with the space in mind, create places where residents can congregate and relax, as a group or on their own. Evan Cruson, a Cardinal Towne resident and UofL Sophomore who is studying accounting and entrepeneurship, finds the lounge space perfect for reading and doing homework. â€œIt used to be that Iâ€™d have to go to the library and study,â€ Cruson commented. â€œNow i can just walk right down the hall.â€
While amenities like the pool and theater might draw students in need of housing to Cardinal Towne, it is the living quarters that entice them to stay at the new living facility. Units range from one-bedroom spaces to two-, three- and four-bedroom suites, and all feature modern kitchens and private bathrooms. In the two-bedroom suite, a full-size kitchen, dining nook and plenty of cabinet space rival that of a brand-new home. The two bedrooms each boast a walk-in closet leading into an elegant private bathroom. Stacked washer and dryer units come standard in every suite, meaning no scrounging for quarters or late-night trips to the laundromat. The spaces are furnished â€“ each suite includes a table and chairs, bar stools, beds, desks, a sofa and even a TV â€“ and in the staged room that is shown to prospective residents, Barry Wooley and his team added decorative accessories to enhance the space and show students how to use its potential. â€œWe tried to show them where they could possibly live, here, by recreating the five senses,â€ he described. â€œwe tried to appeal to the students through good design.â€
Those details enhance a building full of not just visible amenities but also unseen benefits like energy-efficient insulation and electrical features. But for students looking for housing that offers the best that campus living has to offer, it may be all about the â€˜little things.â€™ â€œWe wanted to show people how cool you could make your space look,â€ Wooley summed up the atmosphere of the tourâ€™s suite. â€œAnd the truth is that every kid thatâ€™s walked through here has rented an apartment.â€
Cardinal Towne is still leasing for the Fall 2012 semester. The leasing office is located at 325 W Cardinal Blvd. If you would like more information on Cardinal Towne student living complex, call 502.475.5000.
Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune