In the past few weeks, Dean of Students Carolyn Livingston has rolled out the college’s new housing plan to various stakeholders. The plan entails the renovations and rebuilding of certain interest houses and all cultural houses. Dean Livingston has called the plan an “opportunity to reimagine residential living experience.” However, some students, specifically those currently living in housing that will be replaced, worry that the project will negatively impact traditional student life.
The plan was born out of a need to address the wear and tear of buildings that have not been well maintained.
“All of the traditional residential halls, the traditional dorms, we’ve done a good job addressing and maintaining,” said Livingston. “What we haven’t addressed over the years has been the houses.”
Due to the lack of maintenance, the proposal calls for the complete demolition and replacement of many cultural and interest houses. Some houses—such as Geffert, Prentice, Allen and Wilson—will not be replaced at all. “Frankly, we’ve not maintained these houses the way that we’ve needed to, which is why so many of them are on the ‘not-renovate-but-replace’ phase.”
Livingston pointed to the 2014 Facilities Master Plan as part of the inspiration for the current proposal. The 2014 Plan called for “the elimination of some small houses” and noted that “many of our independent living units are small, converted residential houses that are neither highly functional nor efficient to operate.” It also recommended that the college “create new independent living environments along Union Street and near the Recreation Center.”
These observations from the 2014 Plan reverberate in the current proposal. Livingston’s plan calls for more housing on Lilac Hill (near the current site of Farm and Parr Houses) and new construction on Union Street; it also targets some of the smallest and oldest houses on campus for renovation.
Another focus of both the 2014 Facilities Plan and the current proposal is a “housing mix of 80 percent dormitory living and 20 percent independent living.”
“We’re about 15 percent or 16 percent non-dorm housing; this will get us to 20 percent,” said Livingston. “That was something identified in the 2014 Facilities Master Plan, and the goal was to get more juniors and seniors into those types of housing.”
Yet Livingston also stressed that the plan is still in its very early stages. “Right now, it’s a really high-level conceptual framework. Probably about a year from now, we’ll get a little further into the weeds.” According to Livingston, renovations will not begin until 2023 or when the Dacie Moses project is complete.
“We’re not going to do anything until 2023 because Dacie’s is going through a renovation and we want to finish with Dacie’s first.”
The current housing proposal does not address any design details for the new structures and houses that are slated to be built. Those questions will be adjudicated in what Livingston calls the “design phase,” which she estimates will take place close to 2023.
“The design phase takes the longest,” said Livingston. “It covers what the houses w