Construction underway on new dorm behind B-J

By Tyler Warner

When returning B-J residents arrived in September, they found the field behind their dorm torn up and under construction, marking the first physical sign of the new dorm that will replace the Shoreland.

Cheryl Gutman, the deputy dean of students for Housing and Dining Services, said in an e-mail interview that the first phase of the $100 million new dorm, which will include a dining hall and 650 beds, should be completed by August 2008. The entire dorm will be finished by February 2009, Gutman said.

The first step of the construction was building caissons, or “underground ‘footings’ upon which the steel beams that hold the building up will be erected,” Gutman said.

“This phase is scheduled to take about six weeks, after which the foundation construction will begin,” she said.

Katie Callow-Wright, director of undergraduate housing, said the early construction phase has taken longer than expected.

“We are a little behind schedule,” she said. “But our construction management team is hard at work trying to catch up.”

The housing office has made efforts to limit the disturbance to residents of B-J. Each student received a complimentary toolbox with items such as earplugs, penlights, and candy.

B-J residents also receive e-mails from the housing office with updated information about the construction schedule, said Coulter House resident and third-year Jessica Hille.

Residents of B-J have had different experiences with the construction process.

“People are making a big deal about the construction, but I haven’t found it to be disruptive at all,” Hille said.

B-J resident master Joshua Scodel agreed. “It has actually been remarkably undisruptive,” he said.

Hannah Chazin, a Coulter House resident and third-year, said the construction has not been a major inconvenience. “The only time I ever hear the noise is in the dining room,” she said.

Residents of houses such as Lynn and Salisbury, which are closer to the construction than Coulter House, said the recent work has been loud and disturbing.

“The noise comes at weird times like when you’re watching a movie or sleeping,” said first-year Ilana Kowarski of Salisbury House. “It’s very inconvenient.”

Michael Cheong-Leen, a first-year in the College, said the idea of the new dorm excites him. “It’s supposed to be really nice, and I think it’s a good idea for the school to build it,” he said.

Hille said she expects the new dorm will be a success. “I’m sad that I will have graduated by the time it opens,” she said.

The new dorm will replace the Shoreland, which is schedule to close after the 2007–08 school year. The new dorm is a step toward the administration’s aim of centralizing student housing around campus.

“It has always been a goal of ours to have as many students as possible living close to campus,” said John Boyer, dean of the College.

Boyer said the new dorm might not entirely meet the need for student housing. With the new dorm, the University could conceivably house up to 60 percent of students. Boyer said he would like to have the capacity to house between 70 and 75 percent of undergraduates.

“We have spoken to faculty advisors…about the possible need for another dorm,” Boyer said. “However, currently, all of our attention is being focused on completing our current project.”

At this point, the dorm remains nameless as the University waits for a donor to make a major contribution. The University development staff is busy gathering information about the new dorm to present to prospective donors, Callow-Wright said.

Like the Shoreland, the new dorm will have a variety of facilities in its nine houses. Fifty percent of rooms will be doubles, 30 percent will be singles, and 20 percent will be apartments. The apartments will come in multiple-room formats and will offer kitchens and private baths.

Designed by the architecture firm Goody-Campbell, the new dorm will be a contiguous structure, but subdivided into two wings. The dorm will reach 14 stories at its highest point, though it will be significantly lower on its northern and southern faces so as not to overwhelm B-J or the East 61st Street townhouses.

Boyer said he hopes the new dorm will make the south of campus more attractive to students.

“We hope the new dorm will make the south campus a real destination,” Boyer said.

The dorm’s first floor will contain an 80-seat retail coffee shop, a convenience store, and expanded dining facilities.

The new dorm is part of a larger south-campus redevelopment project, including a new center for the creative and performance arts as well as improvements to the Midway and East 61st Street.