Old shipping containers, new dorms: C of I opens novel housing

At The College of Idaho, a novel housing project has converted 36 decommissioned shipping containers into two new dormitories.

It’s the first college housing project of its kind, and students began moving into the new dorms in August.

“This residential housing solution provides an exceptional living space for our students and is consistent with the college’s desire to support sustainability of the environment,” Richard Erne, the college’s vice president for finance and administration, said in a news release. “Combining these factors with the overall economics, the new housing project fits perfectly into our residential housing program.”

The project was also borne out of necessity. A year ago, the Caldwell-based college opened its doors to a record 406 new students, creating a housing crunch.

The C of I partnered with indieDwell, a Caldwell company, to put up new dorms that could be ready more quickly than a conventional building.

The raw materials for the three-story dorms: 8- by 40-foot shipping containers, weighing 16,000 pounds apiece. The containers are partitioned into suites that include five bedrooms, two bathrooms and a common area that includes a refrigerator and a kitchenette.

“All four of my roommates and I are able to comfortably do homework and study together in the space,” said Madison Kingsbury, a senior who is resident assistant at one of the new dorms.

The college says the new dorms are also built for energy efficiency — with LED lighting, high-density insulation and a design that minimizes air or energy leaks.

The dorms were named for two of Idaho’s mountain ranges: Sawtooth and Owyhee.

At full capacity, the dorms will house 54 students, in 46 single rooms and four double rooms.

Like all of the college’s residential halls, the new dorms are not filled to capacity during the coronavirus pandemic. At this point, 28 students are living in the new dorms, but that number is likely to go up as the school year continues, said Jen Nelson, the college’s residential life director.


Kevin Richert

About Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on KIVI 6 On Your Side; "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television; and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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