Prior to 1983, the University had an on-campus housing capacity for 702 students (170 single beds and 532 twin accommodations). However, with close to 2,000 requests yearly for accommodation, there was a recognized need both to increase and to diversify on-campus housing.
The existing residences (Rundle and Kananaskis Halls), provided dormitory-style housing with on-site common areas and underground walkways that linked the Halls to the Dining Centre. The new residences would have a different style and design as walk-up, self-contained apartments with a certain percentage accessible to disabled students
The housing construction project had strong support from the Board of Governors, the Senate and the Students’ Union, who had submitted a housing study report in 1976 upon the request of the Minister of Advanced Education. Construction began in June 1982 and the buildings opened in September 1983. There were a total of 257 beds in 122 units, including 19 units designed for disable use. The units were made up of a living area, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom areas with further amenities in the buildings consisting of study lounges, recreation lounges, social/meeting rooms and computer terminals.
The policy for naming University buildings is to choose geographical name places in Alberta. The older residences of Rundle and Kananaskis were named after mountains and the Building Planning Committee elected to continue this trend in 1983 by selecting the names of Norquay, Brewster and Castle for the new residences.
This trend has continued with the recent construction of two additional residences: Aurora and Crowsnest Halls.