Q&A College Park Conceptual Design

Why does the College need new beds?

Dartmouth’s undergraduate residence halls have been at capacity for several years. We have maintained long waiting lists for housing each summer, as our existing residence halls cannot meet the current demand for fall term housing. In the wake of the Morton Hall fire in October 2016, we were forced to house many of our displaced students in College rental properties that would otherwise not be available for undergraduates. We faced this same challenge this fall housing the incoming class of 2021. In addition, many of the College’s older residence halls require substantial renovation to address deferred maintenance and to equalize the quality of residential facilities across campus. Any renovation or renewal project would require closing a current residence hall for at least a year and additional bed space would be required, providing “swing space” to maintain current capacity while such a project was underway. The current goal is to provide an additional 750 beds.

What renovations are needed?

Many of the older residential facilities require substantial renovation to address deferred maintenance and to equalize the quality of undergraduate residence halls. Extensive renovation of a particular building will require closing that facility for at least a year.

Why build in College Park? Were other sites considered?

We are focused on the western edge of College Park because it is in the interior part of the campus, immediately adjacent to other residence halls (Ripley Woodward Smith, the Fayerweathers, Richardson, and Wheeler), and it is the only available site with the necessary capacity. If we decide to move forward, the Bema, Bartlett Tower, and the special character of the park would be preserved.

What is involved in doing feasibility and cost studies?

The College is engaged in a conceptual design process to define the scale, scope, impact, and preliminary cost estimates. The process includes conducting site analyses, a land survey, geotechnical studies, utilities assessments (including energy efficiency and sustainability goals at the LEED Platinum or Gold certification levels), focus groups, and other investigative work as needed.

What happens next?

The Planning, Design, and Construction team, in partnership with the Dean of the College and Residential Life offices, is working with Sasaki Architects to conduct these assessments. Sasaki and sub-consultants will be on campus over the next six weeks to gather data and then develop a conceptual design and cost estimates, which will be presented to trustees in November. If the College moves forward with this project (which would require a series of institutional and town approvals over the next two years), the earliest possible start of construction would be in mid-2019, for completion in the summer of 2021. With no commitments in place at this point, this work is preliminary.

Is the College going to increase enrollment?

On Aug. 2, President Phil Hanlon charged a Task Force on Undergraduate Enrollment Scale, co-chaired by Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Elizabeth Smith and Dean of the College Rebecca Biron, to study the pros and cons of enrollment growth and consider the potential effects. The task force will make a preliminary report to President Hanlon this fall and will submit its final report in March 2018. However, additional beds are needed to ease the current housing crunch and allow for renovation and renewal, irrespective of any possible enrollment growth.