University of Utah Honors College
Artist's rendering of the Donna Garff Marriott Honors Residential Scholars Community.

SALT LAKE CITY — A groundbreaking ceremony was held Wednesday for the new honors residential community at the University of Utah.

The Donna Garff Marriott Honors Residential Scholars Community will house students in the University of Utah's Honors College.

The first phase of the 161,000-square-foot structure will be at the corner of Mario Capecchi and South Campus drives. It's expected to house 310 students and resident advisers. It will have a commons area and meeting places.

"Research shows that relationships with fellow students and friends, dedicated faculty and staff greatly affect students' chances of succeeding in higher education," said Martha Bradley, dean of the Honors College. "The new housing is designed for that very purpose — creating the opportunity for community. We aim with this building to engage our students, who will learn in the same place they live, in a more holistic way."

The design of the new complex uses Italian-influenced towers to mark communal spaces in the building. The Fireplace Tower will mark the commons area, which will have study and dining spaces, as well as a convenience store. There will also be an outside plaza for recreation.

The current phase of construction is expected to be finished in June 2012. Eventually, the residence will hold 1,800 beds, Bradley said.