The beginning of the end of Dartmouth’s housing crunch will kick off next week ,when construction workers barricade the large parking lot north of Maynard Street, Dean of Residential Life Martin Redman told the Student Assembly Tuesday night.
Speaking at the Assembly’s weekly meeting, Redman said the $66 million construction of two new residential complexes will take about two years and will add some 500 beds to Dartmouth’s housing system.
The plan will likely be bankrolled entirely by the College’s new capital campaign, marking a departure from previous financing, which was based solely on rent fees, Redman said.
Redman now estimates that the 342-bed McLaughlin residential cluster, which will take up the Maynard lot and be slightly larger than the East Wheelock cluster, will be done by fall 2006.
The smaller 162-bed Tuck Mall building, to be built about 50 feet from the Butterfield and Russell Sage dorms, may lag slightly behind schedule until the winter of 2006, Redman estimated. That part of the project still requires some town approvals, and construction will likely begin in the spring.
Unlike East Wheelock, the two main buildings of the McLaughlin cluster will not be connected underground, but will have a number of special features, including a two-story cluster common area attached to one of the buildings, a large courtyard, high-tech study rooms and a type of energy-efficient heating which Redman believes no other college has used.
Construction on this complex will be noisy, Redman said, adding that people working Gilman Life Science Laboratory have already expressed concerns about the effect on lab equipment. He worries more though, about possible disruption from the Tuck Mall construction.
That building will include indoor bike storage, an outdoor patio with barbecue pits, and two common room areas, with the first-floor one set to be a space where students could party.
“It’s being designed as a down and dirty place where we don’t care,” Redman said.
Around the time when the new buildings are completed, the Office of Residential Life will also sell Hinman residence hall to the Tuck Business School so it can construct new housing on the site.
Assembly members seemed generally pleased about the project, with Student Body President Julia Hildreth ’05 noting she appreciated the amount of student input that went into the plans.
But some expressed concerns, ranging from whether the new housing would encourage enrollment increases to worries about construction to the question of architectural integrity along Tuck Mall.
“I don’t think that the plan fits in as well as it could with the existing structures,” said Ralph Davies ’05.
According to Redman, the long-term plan is to renovate all existing dorms, which he said will be less overcrowded after the new dorms are finished, and demolish the River and Choates clusters. The time frame for this, though, is uncertain.
“Your children may be coming here before it happens,” Redman told the audience of about 50.