Kellogg House Jack Looney

Residents call it “the O-Hilton.” It’s still dormitory-style housing, but given its many amenities and commanding views of Grounds, the new $18.8 million Kellogg House feels more like a hotel, according to its denizens.

Built into the slope of Observatory Hill, Kellogg House opened in August for 192 first-year students and nine resident advisers. It’s the first of seven new dorms planned to replace 11 residence halls in the O-Hill area that date from the 1960s and 1970s.

The five-story building provides a glimpse of what’s to come in student housing: wired and wireless Internet access; air-conditioning and elevators; individual heating and cooling controls in each room. On the ground floor, multipurpose rooms provide social and classroom space and quiet study areas. Each of the four residential floors also has lounges and study areas equipped with flat-screen TVs and DVD players. “Students can set up classes, bring in speakers, watch the big game or enhance their social lives,” says Patricia Romer, director of plans and programs for University Housing. “This is a living and learning environment.”

But what’s gotten arguably the most press is the laundry alert system. Gone are the days of schlepping a dirty hamper down innumerable flights of stairs to the basement laundry room, only to find all the machines in use (and the only available one out of order). At the Kellogg House, residents can monitor a Web site from the comfort of their rooms that tells them how many machines are available or how soon those in use will become free. They can also program the washing machines to notify them, via computer, when their load is done.

The design of Kellogg House incorporated input from student groups and surveys of what other schools were doing to enhance dormitory living. The building will be used as a model for future residence halls, but they won’t be exact replicas of each other, officials say.

The whole construction project is expected to be completed by 2017. As a new dorm rises, an old one will fall under the wrecking ball; Dobie House, the first to go, will be demolished next summer. Its replacement should open in 2011. “Frankly, some of the planning we did a generation ago did not hold up very well,” UVA President John T. Casteen III said during the Kellogg House dedication ceremony in September.

The dorm is named in honor of Robert L. Kellogg, a former dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, chair of the English department and the founding principal of Brown Residential College. He died in 2004.

Although not a “green” building according to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards, Kellogg House does have some sustainable features, including light motion sensors, recyclable carpet tiles and drought-resistant plants in its landscaping.