On the rise: Student housing at Holly Pointe Commons

On the rise: Student housing at Holly Pointe Commons


With nearly 100 letters of hope for the future, Rowan University memorabilia, popular culture items and even a box of Hostess Twinkies, Rowan students carefully documented life in 2015 for the students of 2065 during a ceremony on Oct. 14 to celebrate the construction of new student housing on the Glassboro campus.

Students filled a time capsule that will be housed at Holly Pointe Commons, the $145 million, 1,400-bed underclassmen residential living facility now under construction at Main and Carpenter streets in Glassboro. The time capsule is expected to remain sealed for at least 50 years.

Located at the at the site of the former Mansion Park Apartments, Holly Pointe Commons will include a four-story building and a seven-story building connected by a bridge, as well as a 20,000-square-foot, 550-seat dining hall. Construction began in the spring and will be complete in fall of 2016.

Through the University’s first-ever public-private partnership to develop on-campus student housing with a private developer, Rowan entered into an agreement to construct the building with University Student Living (USL) of Marlton, the comprehensive campus housing company of The Michaels Organization, and Provident Group-Rowan Properties LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Provident Resources Group, Inc.

“This is what I call the power of public-private partnerships,” Rowan President Ali A. Houshmand said at the ceremony. “We’re building something very, very special here.”

The 75-foot-high, 303,000-square-foot hall is set on eight acres adjacent to Rowan Boulevard, the $300 million residential and retail development that connects the University to downtown Glassboro.

Growing enrollment

Holly Pointe Commons will provide much-needed student housing as the University’s enrollment continues to surge. Rowan’s current enrollment of 16,000 students—some 6,000 more than six years ago—is expected to grow even more. By 2023, enrollment is expected to hit 25,000 students.

Those students will need terrific facilities as they work to complete their studies and become part of the community, Houshmand noted. They’ll get that in Holly Pointe Commons, which boasts a forward-thinking design, Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students Richard Jones said.

“The building’s design is dynamic, thoughtful and creative,” Jones said, noting that the design of Holly Pointe Commons represents the future of Rowan, providing students with a true home away from home.

“It will help students develop a strong living and learning community and will help them build a strong connection to the University and the Glassboro community.”

Serpentine-shaped design

Designed by Erdy McHenry Architecture of Philadelphia, the complex features a serpentine-shaped footprint and incorporates a new campus commons that will be green space. Rather than using a traditional rectangular grid, perimeter bedrooms of the building are grouped around central facilities and gathering spaces designed to bring students together.

The building’s façade will be constructed of metal facing with large windows throughout. It includes floor to ceiling glass at community lounge areas.

Designed with sustainability incorporated into every detail, Holly Pointe Commons is minimally targeting LEED Silver certification. Torcon, Inc., a family-owned company headquartered in Red Bank and one of the most active firms in the Mid-Atlantic region, is the construction management firm for the project.

University Student Living, which developed Rutgers-Camden’s graduate housing in 2010, has developed student housing nationwide, including communities providing housing at the University of Minnesota, the University of Arkansas, the University of South Alabama, MIT and Baylor University.

Holly Pointe Commons, USL president Joe Coyle said, “is one of the more creative projects” the company has developed nationally.

“And we’re proud to build it right in our backyard,” he added.

Coming home

Sophomore history and secondary education major Nicole Hilliard, the first president of Rowan’s new Residence Hall Association, said the facility will help new Rowan students feel at home.

“When students feel at home and comfortable in their community, they strive for a great future,” Hilliard said. “Holly Pointe Commons will open up our campus and allow for more student success. It will connect underclassmen with students and businesses on Rowan Boulevard, building a true college town.”

Messages for the future

The time capsule students filled included, among other memorabilia, a selfie stick, a Rowan yearbook, University t-shirts and brochures, a directory of downtown Glassboro, and pop culture items, such as “Game of Thrones” and “Walking Dead” figurines.

The Twinkies were placed in the time capsule for scientific experimentation. Students are curious to see if they will be preserved five decades from now.

The idea that today’s students will be in their 70s when the time capsule is opened wasn’t lost on many of the letter writers. Their messages discussed current events—the legalization of gay marriage, Donald Trump’s presidential run, current technologies and social media platforms—but also encouraged future Rowan students to make the most of their college educations.

Among their messages:

“I hope everyone in your world is more accepting and generous to others.”

“Hopefully Rowan has grown, even more than it has in the past few years.”

“Even though 50 years might not change life as I know it significantly, I still hope that the world becomes a better place where there are fewer wars and more equality around the world.”

“Hopefully, as you read this, I’m 71 and maybe my grandkids are your classmates. Or maybe I’ll see you at Homecoming.”

“I wish you success and happiness! Find me on Facebook… if it still exists.”

“Cherish every moment.”

What’s in a name?

The Holly Pointe Commons name pays homage to both the University’s past and future. The tradition of naming University residence halls for the state’s native trees dates back to the opening of the first campus dormitory in 1928. The American Holly grew in and around the woods near campus.

The word “Pointe” describes the location of the complex at the eastern tip of campus, a historically busy intersection where the borough’s commercial and residential districts have met for more than 200 years.

“Commons” refers to a public gathering place used jointly by the residents of a community.