O-Issue 2014: Compendium of Dorms

There’s no place like dorm.

By Isaac Stein


5748 South Blackstone Avenue

Blackstone combines the intimate feel of a small residence hall (comprised only of denizens of Blackstone House) with the relative privacy of half-double apartments. Each apartment in Blackstone consist of two adjoining rooms, a shared bathroom, and either a kitchenette or (for the first time this year) a storage unit. To accommodate this change, a community kitchen will join the hall’s amenities, which already include a lounge with a fireplace and grand piano, a study lounge, and a TV room. The array of communal areas facilitates Blackstone’s budding house culture, kick-started a few years ago by the addition of first-years to the previously upperclassman-only house.


The brick façade of the six-story residence hall blends nicely with the quaint residences that surround it, but Blackstone is also somewhat remote. Despite being about a 10-minute walk from the main quads, and even further from other campus locations, residents enjoy convenient access to public transit options and community businesses and restaurants—in other words, a neighborhood.



1442 East 59th Street

Named after Sophonisba Breckinridge, who became the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in political science from UChicago in 1901 as well as the Law School’s first ever female graduate, Breckinridge Hall is another single-house dorm. The hall offers single and double rooms divided into single-sex floors, as well as other amenities such as a weight room and large community kitchen. Breckinridge is far from most campus buildings, but the long walk is offset by the hall’s proximity to the Midway Plaisance (prime real estate for outdoor recreation) and the 59th Street Metra stop.



5540 South Hyde Park Boulevard

With a 15-minute walk to the main quads, most Broadview residents quickly pick up an intimate knowledge of the shuttle routes and #171 bus schedule. But if you’re willing to sacrifice convenience for quality of accommodation, Broadview’s apartment-style living arrangements might not be so bad. Living in Broadview is perhaps the best approximation of apartment life in “on-campus” housing. The building offers a mix of single, double, and a few recent forced-triple first-year rooms, all of which have an adjoining private bathroom. Another perk of the distance from campus is an increased familiarity with Hyde Park, as well as the rest of Chicago—the nearby #6 bus stop will take you straight to downtown. Broadview takes advantage of both the physical building and proximity to the surrounding community. A large ballroom, left over from the hall’s days as a hotel, serves as the venue for an annual, formal-dress Broadview Ball for the dorm’s three houses, and neighborhood children are invited to trick-or-treat on Halloween.



1005 East 60th Street

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Burton-Judson is unironically, unapologetically referred to as B-J. Giggle to yourself now and get it out of your system. B-J, built in 1931, is a neo-Gothic building with plenty of character and no air-conditioning or elevators. Its location is convenient—just south of the Midway, a short walk to the main quads, and just a few steps away from a dining hall and late-night convenience store. B-J is home to six of the smallest houses on campus. House culture is heavy on traditions, and they have plenty of reason for house pride, having fostered several famous alumni, Carl Sagan and David Broder among them. Residents also make use of two large first-floor lounges, a basement movie theater, and the two enclosed courtyards around which the building is built. Rooms in B-J are mostly singles, though doubles are also common. B-J doubles are a bit unusual, though, in that they are made of two adjoining rooms, only one of which has a door out to the hallway. This level of privacy is certainly a plus, but debate is ongoing as to whether it’s preferable to live in the room that your roommate will always have to walk through when coming home late, or the room in which one could conceivably find themselves trapped while being sexiled.



1414 East 59th Street

Life in International House (I-House) is not your typical dorm experience. The hall houses around 430 residents, only 250 of which are UChicago undergraduates. I-House was founded in 1932 by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to connect students from around the world and promote cultural exchange and understanding; today it houses a variety of students from over 50 countries, as well as students in the College.


In spite of I-House’s unique purpose, the four houses located there (Booth and Phoenix, recently formed to accommodate the expanding undergraduate population, and Shorey and Thompson, part of the post-Pierce exodus) have all the trappings of the housing system—house tables, RHs, RAs, etc. Each house also has a small lounge, but the main common spaces in I-House are shared by the building, including a notably spacious kitchen and plenty of seating and lounge space on the first floor.


Booth and Phoenix Houses offer exclusively single rooms, and Thompson and Shorey have only a few doubles.



5445 South Ingleside Avenue

Located further north than any other residence hall and housing about 100 students in a single house, Maclean Hall is rumored to have more than just geography in common with Game of Throne’s Winterfell—other students have been known to joke that Maclean, too, is fictional. Maclean’s location in a residential area of Hyde Park is not all that far from the main quads, and just two blocks from Ratner Athletics Center. Offering an overwhelming majority of single rooms, Maclean couples privacy with social opportunity; video games, IM sports, and movie nights are mainstays of the house culture. The hall also features a large communal kitchen, a theater space for the aforementioned movie nights (organized by the house “movie czar”), and an exercise room. Walking around the dorm, Maclean’s vibe can be seen in the decor, with famous quotes painted on hallway walls by residents.


Max Palevsky Residence Hall

1101 East 56th Street

Colloquially known as “Max.” A dorm funded by a man of wealth and taste, Max Palevsky is often criticized for its audacious color scheme. Forgive that, and realize that its location is second only to Snell-Hitchcock.

Along with South Campus, Max is the other housing “big dog” in terms of the number of students it holds, and is made up of four-person apartments and a smattering of singles. Reg, food, and gym are all in a 100-meter radius. The dorm thus tends to draw both athletes and the profoundly lazy. You know who you are.


Stony Island Residence Hall

5700 South Stony Island Avenue

Probably because it was a dorm originally intended for grad students, Stony has almost zero maintenance issues—especially compared to the other satellite dorms. The rooms, which are all four-person apartments, are superior in build quality and are larger than even those in South Campus.


New Graduate Residence Hall

1307 East 59th Street

New Grad is the home of the other half of the post-Pierce exodus. Its East 59th Street location exposes residents to a diverse cross section of the student body. Plus, residents get to live in a building that looks sort of like the Parthenon. The rooms, which are mostly doubles, are some of the nicest on campus, owing to the fact that they weren’t intended for undergrads (no offense).


South Campus Residence Hall

6031 South Ellis Avenue

South, as it is popularly known, is the imposing, glassy behemoth at 60th and Ellis which houses 800 people. It is a mix of singles, doubles, and apartments. Build quality can be shoddy in places, but this is mitigated by the fact that it’s sort of new. Services and maintenance response times are among the best on campus, perhaps because the University wants a Potemkin village to show parents. The ice machine next to the laundry room is a must for any rager.


Snell-Hitchcock Hall

1009 East 57th Street

Snell-Hitchcock is the oldest dorm on campus, and the one that’s famous for being zealous about Scav. In order to live there, one usually must have either turned in one’s housing form early or paid someone off. Snell House is made up exclusively of singles, while Hitchcock House contains a mixture of singles and doubles. Residents of both houses share a laundry room and have access to a pool table and ping-pong table.


Pierce/Campus North

5514 South University Avenue

Pierce Tower was a very lovable place before it was razed last year. Literally. Among a host of other maintenance issues owing to the building’s age, the toilets had a tendency to explode. If you don’t believe us, you can read about it in old issues of the *Maroon*. Beginning last academic year, ex-Pierce residents (and their RAs and RHs) were relocated to the New Grad and I-House dorms.


Earlier this year, the University announced that Studio Gang Architects, a Chicago-based architecture firm, had won the contract to build a new dorm on the Pierce site, called Campus North. We don’t know much about North yet, save that there’s going to be a lot of glass, it will have its own dining hall, and it should open in 2016.