To accommodate increasing class sizes, three new brownstones will be made available for undergraduate housing in the fall of 2013, Dean of Student Affairs Kevin Shollenberger and Dean of Community Development and Multicultural Affairs Terry Martinez told Spectator on Tuesday evening.
The white brownstones at 619, 621, and 623 W. 113th St., between Broadway and Riverside Drive, will likely be used for special interest housing. Shollenberger said the brownstones are expected to house 79 upperclassmen in a mix of single and double rooms.
“I think this is going to be prime space,” Martinez said. “One because it’s new and because it’s going to be geared towards student interests.”
Martinez and Shollenberger said that the brownstones have homey touches, like bow windows and fireplaces.
“Especially being in New York City like this, we don’t often have the opportunity to design a space like this for undergraduates,” Shollenberger said, explaining that his office is still trying to finalize plans to renovate the buildings and reconfigure rooms. Shollenberger said that the University will soon apply for permits from the Department of Buildings to complete interior renovations and mechanical and electrical work.
Adding this space is part of a larger plan to increase average class sizes in Columbia College by 50 every year for four years. The college is currently in its third year of this increase. In 2010, Harmony Hall and 548 W. 113th St. were opened up for general selection to accommodate extra undergraduates.
The brownstones will not be a part of general selection—they will fall under the application process for special interest communities. Shollenberger said he would like to see students develop a theme or multiple themes for the new residential communities starting next year.
“Since it’ll be for 79 people, it’s possible that we’ll do a different theme for each floor... what we’ve learned is that when students are a part of that process and come up with the themes, these programs are much more successful,” Shollenberger said. Martinez added that she hopes the new dorms, however they are organized, will host events for the community and faculty members.
The University acquired the brownstones in 2007 from the sisters of the Community of the Holy Spirit. The brownstones had been called St. Hilda’s House convent until the sisters moved to Convent Ave. at 150th Street in the spring. Shollenberger said that a former chapel will be converted into bedroom space.
Small common area lounges will be added to each floor and the basement floor will be altered to create study spaces, a computer lab, and kitchen. A public safety officer desk will also be placed in the lobby. The yearly cost for students has not yet been determined.
“We are very excited about it,” Aki Terasaki, CC’11 and CCSC president, said. “I think it’s a little difficult for student council to speak on it right now because it’s still every much in the development stage.”
Terasaki said he looks forward to working with the deans on developing the possible themes of the new housing. Communities centered around entrepreneurship and technology have been discussed in early conversations, but Terasaki said he thinks committees will be formed with students, deans, and council members to make any final decisions.