On a warm Friday evening in September, music and laughter can be heard at the Lakeside apartments, the new graduate-student housing between Faculty Road and Lake Carnegie. Students gather around an outdoor grill at the central Commons.
“My favorite part about living in Lakeside is that it’s so easy getting together with people now,” said Ingrid Ockert, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in history. “I had a hard time shifting here initially because I really liked the Butler units so much, but this was an improvement.”
Of the more than 700 students and family members who have moved into Lakeside, about half previously lived in the Butler apartments. Those units, built following the end of World War II, are being razed.
Another history Ph.D. student, Ezelle Sanford III, was one of the first occupants of Lakeside, moving into a three-bedroom townhouse with two roommates. “Immediately people were on the basketball courts, people were on the volleyball courts,” Sanford said. The study spaces, computer clusters, lounges, and outdoor areas of the Commons are popular and have “great ambience,” he said.
“People are always grilling or just chatting on the patio,” he said. “It’s going to be great for creating community for graduate students.”
Ockert said she appreciates the fact that each unit has a washer and dryer, and praised the frequency of bus service to other parts of campus. “I’m very grateful the University continues to build and offer housing so close to campus,” she said.
Still, there have been some complaints, described as “little logistics issues” by Victoria Luu, communications director for the Graduate Student Government. “They’ve been dealing with them, so it’s been fine,” she said. Among the concerns: a shortage of bike racks, the size of the play area inside the Commons for grad students’ children, and the proximity of the Dinky tracks to the apartments.
Ockert, whose apartment is among those closest to the rail line, said the Dinky’s train whistle “was loud to begin with, but I’ve gotten used to it.”
For the children of the complex, however, a passing train is a source of delight. Ockert recounted walking near the children’s playground as the Dinky passed by: “You can hear it all over, and I heard a little kid going ‘Toot toot!’ as the train went by.”