Before their June meeting, members of the Missouri Southern State University Board of Governors toured the nearly completed $20 million residence hall that will house an estimated 304 students this fall.

Lion Village, a four-story, three-wing building located at the northern edge of the university’s complex of dormitories, covers approximately 92,000 square feet. The $20 million project is being funded from bond sales.

Joplin’s R.E. Smith Construction Co. is serving as the construction manager and contractor of the project. Construction, which began roughly 18 months ago, is set for completion in August. It is now about 95% complete, according to lead architect Brad Erwin of Paragon Architecture, based in Springfield.

“We’re going to meet our deadline of Aug. 1,” Erwin said. “R.E. Smith has really been working hard through all of the challenges like weather, the pandemic, material shortages.”

The new residence hall will offer three types of housing this school year: suites, traditional and private styles. There are 32 suites and 88 traditional and private rooms with the capacity of housing 304 students. Occupants will also have unlimited access to the two laundry rooms located on each floor.

“I’m very excited for our students to receive the support they need for success and student engagement this fall,” MSSU President Dean Van Galen said. “It will house over 300 students, and sign-ups are already occurring.”

Josh Doak, director of residence life at MSSU, said more common spaces were added to the residence hall to focus on aspects like community student engagement.

“With our older facilities, we’ve lacked those spots here,” he said during the tour. “We’re very focused on students coming and being able to study or gather.”

Clint Walton, vice president of R.E. Smith, said the company was fortunate enough to not shut down construction and maintained operations during the pandemic by implementing safety precautions.

“We’re about 30 days or so from completion,” Walton said. “We never shut down. We were careful to social distance, which in construction is kind of difficult because sometimes it takes two people or more in a tight space. But we came up with a lot of standards, and it worked well for us.”

The Board of Governors not only toured a completed wing of the building but also the center wing, which is currently being built. The contractor is in the final stages of the project where workers are finishing ceilings, painting, flooring, as well installing cabinets and appliances.

Erwin said the center wing will feature common spaces, study rooms, a learning center and a 12-seat theater room with a stage.

After the tour, board member Carlos Haley said the new addition to campus turned out even better than he had thought it would.

“It’s more than what I expected, and I wish we had something like this while I was in school here,” he said.

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Author: Kimberly Barker | Source: The Joplin Globe