Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the college investing such a significant amount of money into housing?

The college’s current housing situation is not sustainable due to overcrowding and mounting maintenance costs for the honor houses. The Ole Avenue Project will create an opportunity for the college to renovate its existing on-campus housing. This is a critical investment in the residential experience that defines a St. Olaf education.

Why can’t the honor houses be renovated?

These homes were initially built for private, residential use. They were not designed to accommodate the students currently living there or serve the needs of a residential college. The extensive renovations needed would reduce the number of beds available in these structures and still not result in housing that meets today’s standards.

Will the programming associated with honor houses remain?

Service programs associated with the honor houses will be suspended during construction. Programming associated with the Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion and academic departments will continue. The new town houses offer an opportunity to redevelop our honor house program. We look forward to working with students to further develop the program around the new town houses.

What will happen to the President’s House currently on the site for the project?

The president’s residence will be temporarily relocated during construction while the Board of Regents explores options for a new residence that is more modern, efficient, and suitable for the president’s duties.

Are any of the honor houses or the President’s House protected for their historic status?

None of these houses are protected for their historic status.

Will the college be able to repurpose any part of the honor houses or the President’s House?

The college will repurpose as much as we can from all of the houses, including original woodwork, furniture, appliances, etc.

How will the project meet the college’s commitment to the environment and sustainability?

The new buildings will offer improved energy efficiency, especially when compared to the existing honor houses. The college is also exploring geothermal energy, and is designing the new facilities to LEED standard.

Will counseling services be disrupted during construction?

The Counseling Center will temporarily be located in Ytterboe Hall during construction, and services will not be disrupted. This space in Ytterboe has been home to the Nursing, Theater, and Music departments in recent years while their spaces were being renovated. Once construction is completed in fall 2022, the Counseling Center and Health Services will be located in the east wing of the new residence hall.