See an interactive tour of Poly Canyon Village with photos, a map overlay and interviews from the housing director. Click here for more.

With almost 3,000 beds, the new Poly Canyon Village is pampered student living on a grand scale. The massive new on-campus student living complex – the first LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certified project for new construction on campus – will partially open to students, faculty and staff this fall.

The Mustang Daily recently took an exclusive tour of Poly Canyon Village, beginning where two bridges cross Brizzolara Creek into the complex’s southeast perimeter. To keep the Village and its surroundings as natural as possible, it was built around the creek, said Preston Allen, director of Housing and Residential Life.

“We wanted to be able to, as best as we could, ensure a second-year housing option because we’ve heard time and time again that off-campus housing hasn’t been that great,” Allen said.

Once completed in 2009, the 30 acres with nine buildings and two parking lots will have 615 student apartments, 2,661 student beds and 1,926 parking spaces.

However, this fall, only five of the nine buildings will be completed, with 356 apartments and 1,541 beds available. Sophomores were the first students given the right of refusal, Allen said. Then, housing options will open up to the remaining students.

The total budget for the project, which began in January 2003, is nearly $300 million, said Joel Neel, senior associate director of Capital and Environmental Planning.

“We have remained on budget, I believe, due to the extremely capable project management team the university assembled as well as having an incredible contractor in Clark Construction,” Neel said via e-mail correspondence.

Every building in the complex is different, including the furniture inside, Allen said.

“We really did design this with the students in mind – they’re our first priority,” Allen added. “We did surveys – students worked with us on the design. We felt like it was important to get students’ voices in on it, but we tried not to bog them down with meetings.”

The massive archway of Building A, which houses the Village’s Community Center, opens to a large plaza that is reminiscent of Disneyland’s Main Street – perfect roads and sidewalks, just the right amount of landscaping, a post office, a market, Pony Prints, an ATM, and even a few eateries – Jamba Juice, Peet’s Coffee and Tea, and Einstein Bros. Bagels. The complex really is, well, its own little village.

The large pool is complete with camera surveillance and a laser security system that detects if anyone should fall in late at night.

Security is an obvious priority at the complex. Entry to most buildings is only permitted with an electronic key card, blue emergency posts are strategically placed throughout the complex, and every area will be well lit at night, Allen said.

“Staff will be available to secure the complex,” he added. “It’s the same thing we do currently with our existing programs. All doors have card access, including the pool, so we can monitor who comes and goes.”

While it seems rather far from campus, the distance isn’t much, Allen said.

“Initially, a lot of people thought it was really far away, but it really isn’t,” he said. “But when you’re here, it feels very secluded – like you’re not even on campus.”

Neel said there are several ways for Poly Canyon Village residents to walk to and from campus.

“It is a six or seven minute walk from the administration building and is closer to the center of campus than Yosemite Hall,” Neel said. “We have provided multiple walking options for the students that include two accessible pathways, one that leads to the intersection of Truckee and Village Drive, and the other that ties into the new Via Carta Plaza in front of Campus Market.”

The spacious dorms are equipped with specially made furniture, which is a slightly different color and make depending on the building, and top-of-the-line appliances. Even the laundry rooms are out of the ordinary.

“The laundry facilities are Web ready,” Allen said. “Web sites tell (the students) which laundry machines are empty, so they don’t have to come all the way down here and wait. It will even call them when their laundry is done, but they have to enter their phone number.”

With two half-court basketball courts, a volleyball court, large study areas offering wireless Internet, and more at their disposal, students may never need to leave. Except, of course, to occasionally attend class.

“We try to enhance the college experience. We work with the students very closely to give them exactly what they want,” Allen said. “We wanted to know what would solidify their experience here as a wonderful one.”

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