Vaulted ceilings, arched walkways, vines of ivy climbing the limestone, wood detailing in the rooms, a tower—Burton-Judson is an old dorm that looks even older, but in the past year, there have been some big developments at the gem of East 60th Street.
The news at Burton-Judson (B-J) is all about the grub. Not only is there a convenience store and an expanded dining hall to be shared with entirety of the South Campus Residence Hall, but now there’s also a kitchen for B-J students to use. Residents, who griped for years about the lack of ready access to a cooking space, now have four stoves, two microwaves, and seven refrigerators.
Besides the food facilities, the dorm consists of six houses arranged around two grassy courtyards. The houses are some of the smallest in the residential system: Most have between 40 and 50 students, for a total of just over 300 in B-J.
Rooms are mostly singles and decently sized at about 10×12; as a point of reference, doubles in Pierce are 9×11. B-J’s doubles are two-room suites, with the larger room having a bay window and, in some cases, a functional fireplace.
Each house has a small lounge where housemates gather for meetings, episodes of The Office, or Smash Brothers sessions. The lounges are popular spots, but that can have drawbacks. Students rarely hang out in other houses, and the combination of smaller houses and extreme house bonding makes for an atmosphere that is alternately intimate and claustrophobic, depending on whom you ask.
The distance between B-J and anywhere you want to be will be an annoyance. The academic quads are close, but restaurants, stores, and CTA stops aren’t. And as with everything at the University of Chicago, you have to consider the winter factor. During the colder months, the Midway, which separates B-J from everything else, is essentially a highway for blistering ice-wind headed from the lakefront directly into your face.
Luckily, when you opt to stay indoors, B-J has a variety of common areas: a TV lounge, a library, several study rooms, two Steinway-equipped reading rooms for the musically inclined, and a mercifully air-conditioned computer lab that’s perfect for typing papers once the June heat hits. There’s also the Pit, a basement area with ping-pong, pool, arcade games, vending machines, and the new kitchen.
B-J residents have the pleasure of using community (and in some cases, co-ed) bathrooms, which are better than they sound. They don’t afford much privacy, and it’s no fun walking back to your room wearing a damp towel in February, but someone else buys the TP and keeps them spick and span. On balance, most folks like the convenience. Hey, more time reading Schmitt, less time scrubbing…tiles.