Douthit Hills, Clemson University
General Contractor: Holder Construction
Location: Clemson, South Carolina
by Juliette B. Bradley
According to U.S. News & World Report, Clemson University is currently ranked No. 24 among all public universities. This science and engineering-oriented college is dedicated to teaching, research and outreach service.
Clemson’s campus sits on 1,400 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, along the shores of Hartwell Lake. There are more than 18,500 undergraduate students and 4,500 graduate students.
In 2015, due to lack of space, Clemson turned away 850 students who wanted to live on campus. Students made it clear they had personal reasons for wanting to live on campus, but according to Clemson, living on campus helps keep upperclassmen active in the campus community, reduces town traffic, and campus parking issues.
Clemson went to work planning the most effective way to increase on-campus housing, but they wanted student input, so they encouraged students to communicate via social media with the hashtag #clemsonneeds as to what they were looking for in housing. Clemson listened — the apartments at Douthit Hills mark the first construction for on campus apartments since 2001.
Seven residential buildings were added to Clemson’s landscape. On the east side, three residential buildings house first-year students. The 780- bed capacity includes space for staff and residential advisors who lead and guide this learning community.
On the west side, four residential buildings house upperclassmen. The studio, two- and four-bedroom apartments feature amenities like airy, oversized windows, courtyards, and landscaped walkways. All seven buildings are LEED-Silver certified and advance Clemson’s commitment to sustainability with features such as directional, non-intrusive LED parking-area lighting that can be remotely programmed to shut off when not in use.
Douthit Hills was designed to include ample seating areas for solo work or group settings. Indoor and outdoor seating with workstations, lounge seating, and outdoor umbrella-shaded tables are included. On the west side, near the B building, an outdoor lounge area with a wading pool is open to students. Both the East and West residence halls feature large lobby lounges and community kitchens.
Holder Construction was the general contractor for Douthit Hills. Holder partnered with American Direct to provide doors, frames, and hardware. Holder’s Project Manager, Ines Burdette, says it was an owner’s priority that the unit entry doors should be solid core doors. “American Direct was great on the front end to provide value engineering regarding how we could end up with a quality product and stay on budget,” says Burdette. American Direct’s Regional Sales Manager, Eric Van Scoy, says that Holder originally designated 2,300 doors and 1,200 bi-fold doors as commercial architectural wood doors or veneer stained doors. Van Scoy modified the product package and came up with a pre-hung, paint-grade architectural design package at a value-oriented price point, which the architect approved. “This value-added consult saved the owner at least $900,000,” says Van Scoy.
In order to provide protection for the unit entry door after they were installed, the owner requested that door protection be applied and stay on until construction was complete. This precautionary move prevented the doors from being damaged while other construction work was happening around them.
The East buildings are dorm room style with a common “wet core” bathroom configuration (shared sink space with individual rooms for showers and toilets). The dorm rooms have one entry door, one bedroom door, and a closet door. The West buildings are apartment units and can have up to four bedroom doors, closets, and bathroom doors. Burdette says, “With more than 3,500 doors combined in the East and West zones, the most important thing was to stay organized and follow the sequence of the building schedule. We made every attempt to complete work in one area before starting in a new area.”
Installation was included in this turnkey contract for American Direct, as they relied on their expanding network of installers to provide a top quality experience. American Direct and their installers work as one, so that the transition from door and hardware selection to delivery and finally to installation is seamless to the contractor. American Direct’s Client Account Managers, Martha Runnels (East zone) and John Kennedy (West zone), said that during construction it wasn’t unusual for work to be happening in both the East and West zones simultaneously. “Sometimes we would be working on a punch list in one zone and installing doors in another, so it was extremely important to stay organized and utilize the installers as efficiently as possible. It was very important to collaborate with everyone involved,” says Runnels.
Douthit Hills is now a very valuable asset to Clemson University and the community surrounding it. It is a success story where the education institution listened to their students and responded accordingly, timely, and intuitively. This multiple building construction project is a new era at Clemson and American Direct is honored to have been a part of such a success story.