Construction on Centennial Village to begin over summer

A rendering of the Centennial Village shows the dorm that will replace Hecht and Stanford Residential Colleges.
A rendering of the Centennial Village shows the dorm that will replace Hecht and Stanford Residential Colleges. Photo credit: University of Miami Communications

After much anticipation and delay, construction on the University of Miami’s $335 million Centennial Village housing project is just a few weeks away.

The five building residential college will hold 2,025 students and attempt to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification for sustainability. The development, named in honor of the University of Miami’s centennial celebration, will become a symbol of the university’s success and commitment to the freshman class experience, the office of student affairs said.

“Centennial Village will transform both our campus landscape and the student experience,” said Patricia Whitely, senior vice president for student affairs, in an interview with News@theU. “By continuing to offer our successful first-year residential programming in facilities designed for the modern student experience, the new village will greatly enhance life on campus.”

The building layout was designed to promote community-building among residents through shared common spaces that take advantage of the building’s location near Lake Osceola.

“The design and layout of the way that the new buildings are going to be built is going to naturally foster more interaction, more connection, more community than you’re able to get within the current tower structure,” said Vice President for Facilities Jessica Brumley.

While the residential space will cater to the freshman class, the facility will connect with both the Herbert Wellness Center and Knight Recital Hall — currently under construction on the west side of Lake Osceola — to reimagine the space for all UM‘s community.

“Over the course of the next handful of years, five to 10 years, the goal is to really activate the Center of campus, making it more pedestrian friendly and more student friendly,” Brumley said.

Brumley wants to see Lake Osceola become the “centerpiece” of campus, and take full advantage of the unique lake that defines the UM landscape.

“I went to school in Pennsylvania; We didn’t have a gorgeous body of water in the middle of our campus, and so I think it’s one of the things that makes University of Miami so special and we should be taking advantage of that,” Brumley said.

As UM breaks ground on the major housing facility, incoming students are suffering from a housing crisis impacting both UM and the greater Miami area. After being named the most expensive city to live in in the United States by US News, rents have risen by 5% and housing availability has become limited throughout Miami according to the Miami Herald. This coupled with the loss of 850 student housing spots from the demolition of Hecht Residential College has made it difficult to find affordable housing near UM.

Many students have criticized the university for poor planning, timing and execution of its housing revamp.

“I think that the decision to tear it down before new housing was afforded to students wasn’t the best decision, especially because we’ve seen it increase the housing rates around Miami’s campus,” said freshman political science and computer science major Ovviyya Mansurii. “A good use of the money would have been if Miami decided to purchase more land and then invest in housing and parking in that area.”

UM’s department for Housing and Residential Life (HRL) said it is aware of the inconvenience of this demolition and are working to helping students find off campus housing if they were unable to secure a Lakeside, Eaton or University Village spot.

“Housing and Residential Life staff have been working diligently to try to accommodate housing needs for all students who were approved for University housing. Although there will be less housing available on campus over the next four years, HRL remains committed to working closely with sophomores and upperclassmen to identify off-campus housing solutions,” the department said.

While administrators are hopeful that the project will transform the western half of Lake Osceola and improve the freshman experience, there will be years of construction interrupting student life in the meantime as the construction will continue into 2026 per the expected project timeline.

Manusrii said she worries that freshman classes will struggle to socialize if they are living in a construction zone, unable to forge the Hecht-Stanford connections of years past.

“I completely think it’ll change like the freshman environment of the school, because almost all of the freshmen live in the Hecht-Sanford complex,” Manusrii said.

Returning students should expect to see a different skyline on Lake Osceola upon their fall arrival and plan to reroute their walks to class, as the construction will limit pedestrian access on campus. Parking will remain mostly unaffected by the demolition of the Hecht Towers according to Brumley.

“When students come back in the fall in regards to Centennial, two of the towers, the majority of them, should be demolished really in September, and we should be finalizing that and getting ready to actually break ground and start construction of the new buildings,” Brumley said.

The construction will carry on through 2026, meaning most current students will be unable to experience the final product during their time as undergraduates.

“I will live without getting to experience Centennial Village. It’s not devastating news to me as long as the kids that live there get to make memories like the ones I did in Hecht. I’m sure it’ll be great,” said Manusrii.