The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts (LSMSA) will host a groundbreaking ceremony for their new residence hall on Wednesday, March 13 at 11 a.m. on the school’s campus.
Gov. John Bel Edwards is set to attend and speak at the event.
Last September, Gov. Edwards announced to students, faculty and staff members during a personal visit to the school that the state had approved $27 million toward the construction of the new residence hall. The audience erupted with cheers and astonished cries, as this was the first major advancement in a long-awaited project.
“I’m excited,” said Sarah Johnson (’21). “I wish that I could live there myself, but I’m happy that future students will be able to experience it. The new building has been planned for a long time, and I am glad that we are finally going to do it!”
The new residence hall will be located behind Northwestern State University’s (NSU) Eugene P. Watson Memorial Library and LSMSA’s Center for Performance and Technology. Designed by Ashe, Broussard, and Weinzettle Architects and Tipton Associates, the facility will be 110,000 square-feet, will include four stories with three towers, and will incorporate ten neighborhoods designated to house male and female students. Each neighborhood will include a common room, a kitchen, several two-bedroom resident suites, a laundry room and a study lounge.
The building will also include administrative offices for Student Services, a student health center, apartments for residential life staff, a demonstration kitchen with a small dining area, a guest suite for visiting professors and prospective students, a crafts room, a resident lounge, a gaming room and a theater room. Plans also include an outdoor recreation area.
The project has been ongoing for several years, having originally been proposed under the leadership of LSMSA’s former Executive Director Dr. Pat Widhalm. The construction of the facility has been long-awaited by students, faculty and staff members and the LSMSA Foundation Board of Trustees.
“It is a project we have been working on for years, so it has been a long time coming,” said Bill New, president of the LSMSA Foundation Board of Trustees, in an interview back from September 2018. “We are thankful to finally see it come to fruition, and it is all thanks to a lot of hard work from a lot of different people.”
LSMSA’s current residence halls, Prudhomme and Caddo, were built in the late 1950s and early 1960s, respectively. They were originally owned by the neighboring campus of NSU before being offered to LSMSA as a loan. Both dormitories were expected to only be occupied for five years, but state budget cuts caused delays in the request for a new residence hall until 2005.
“NSU officials have graciously allowed LSMSA to use the residence halls—for 36 years now,” said LSMSA Executive Director Dr. Steve Horton. “We continue to be grateful to the university for being such a good partner to LSMSA. Both institutions have benefited from this relationship that began back in 1982.”
Construction on the new residence hall is estimated to take two years. Upon completion, it will house all of LSMSA’s 360 students.