CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University will begin construction in May on a new five-story living center that will be a combination residence hall and education center, as well as a model of sustainability.

The 148,000-square-foot structure will house some 350 international and domestic students, provide new classrooms, and contain offices for faculty and support services, a classroom auditorium with about 110 seats, and retail space for a coffee shop and a market that will include fresh fruit and produce.

"This is part of the university's plan to internationalize our campus and provide a diversity of global perspectives that will enrich the educational experience for all of our students," said Sabah Randhawa, OSU provost and executive vice president.

The new facility, which will be located at 17th Street and Western Boulevard on the south end of campus, is scheduled to open in September of 2011. Its occupants will be comprised of roughly 70 percent international students and 30 percent students from Oregon and elsewhere in the United States.

Randhawa said OSU's strategic plan calls for doubling the university's international enrollment from about 4.8 percent of the student body in 2009 to 10 percent within the next five years. OSU's overall enrollment for its Corvallis campus reached nearly 22,000 students last fall term.

Much of the anticipated growth in international enrollment will come through Oregon State's collaboration with INTO University Partnerships, a United Kingdom-based firm specializing in recruiting international students. In 2008, OSU became the first American university to partner with INTO, and the first students began entering "pathway programs" on campus last year.

The new students have come to Oregon State from more than 30 different countries, according to Amy McGowan, director of the INTO OSU Center. Leading the way are students from China, the Middle East and north Asia, she said, but there also are a number of students from other countries, including Russia and Vietnam.

The program's rapid success has created the need for additional on-campus housing, OSU officials say.

"As the university's overall enrollment has grown, so has our need for on-campus housing and classroom space," said Dan Larson, associate director of University Housing and Dining at OSU. "Our international enrollment in particular is growing through our partnership with INTO and this new living center will help accommodate that growth and facilitate interactions between international and domestic students."

The new living/learning center also will utilize heat-recovery ventilation, high-efficiency heating, rainwater reclamation, and a host of other sustainable features designed to exceed the state's energy conservation guidelines by as much as 60 percent.

The center is on target to earn a LEED gold rating under the U.S. Green Building Council's "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design" system, according to Brian Thorsness, OSU's director of business services. Two small houses, located on the site, will be "deconstructed" and the materials salvaged will be reused or recycled, Thorsness added.

The Portland architecture firm, Mahlum, designed the new center. Fortis Construction, also of Portland, is the general contractor.

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Dan Larson, 541-737-0683