Harvey Mudd College has begun laying the foundation for a new on-campus residence hall. The residence hall, on which construction began Sept. 18, has been planned since the fall of 2013, and is scheduled for completion in August 2015.
The college has received site work and foundation permits and expects to receive approval of the overall building permits in the next two weeks, said HMC Director of Capital Projects James Hawley.
The new, unnamed residence hall will contain 131 beds, more than the 70 to 80 beds typical of existing HMC residence halls. It will also differ from existing residence halls in its combination of singles, doubles and suites.
School officials, including Hawley and Dean of Students Maggie Browning, anticipate that the new residence hall will make it easier for all students to live on campus as the college is currently at 107 percent capacity, with about 30 students living off campus in the Brighton Park apartment complex.
“We want to provide all our students with the ability to live on campus,” Browning said. “It’s a key feature of the Harvey Mudd education.”
Hawley added that the new residence hall can provide “search space,” meaning that it can house students whose residence halls are being repaired.
The extra housing will also allow converted lounges to be reclaimed as common areas, Browning said.
“We’ve already committed to increasing to 900 students over the next 10 years, so we will certainly need more space for those students,” Browning said. “But right now this dorm is really to deal with the capacity that we already have at 800.”
To plan the new residence hall, the Dean of Students Office collaborated with Facilities and Maintenance and the Associated Students of Harvey Mudd College. During the 2013-2014 school year, ASHMC worked with the administration to hold four forums where students gave input about what makes a good residence hall.
Students were able to offer feedback both in the early stages of the planning process and after architects drew up preliminary plans. Facilities and Maintenance allowed people to write directly on the preliminary drawings with markers, and some students participated in a lunch meeting with the architect.
ASHMC President Michael Saffron HM ’15 said that students strongly suggested that warts, the square blocks found on older HMC residence halls, be incorporated into the designs.
“Our buildings are hideous because they have warts on them, and we really like that they have warts on them,” Saffron said.
However, students were more divided when debating the merits of suite-style and hallway-style residence halls. As a compromise, the new residence hall will be approximately half suites and half hallways. The new residence hall will also feature a large kitchen, a large lounge with glass windows, a courtyard that opens up onto the main mall and a bocce ball court in the space between Sontag Hall and the new residence hall.
Hawley said that students were especially influential in designing the gathering spaces, which are arranged in a series of concentric circles.
“Each little space has a purpose for small or large student groups,” Hawley said.
Like HMC’s other residence halls, the residence hall will be U-shaped. Browning said that although the new residence hall will not be identical to the original four residence halls, it will be consistent with the architecture on the residential side of campus.
Browning also emphasized that the new residence hall will be integrated into the existing circle of residence halls, noting that preserving HMC’s tradition of residential community was an important consideration in planning the new residence hall.
Saffron said that the new residence hall will “relieve a lot of pressure on the residential end of campus.”
“Hopefully,” he added, “it will help build a stronger sense of community in the outer dorms.”