Three new residence halls opened their doors in 2011

by Nina Riccio

That traditional, twoman, cinderblock box with linoleum floors that is the standard in undergraduate dorm rooms has gone the way of record albums and fatback TVs. Many students returning to Fairfield this fall are now housed in three new residence halls.

Unveiled this September, the new dorms are striking, comfortable, and generating quite a bit of buzz for their community-like feel. The three are part of a $60 million overall residence hall renovation plan, designed to increase the number of beds on campus and upgrade the quality of housing, while creating spaces that encourage students to gather within their communities.

The new residence for sophomores — 70 McCormick Road — bridges the divide between Jogues and Campion Halls in the “Quad” area of the campus, and houses 132 students in the Students for Justice community. Social rooms feature kitchens, the hallways have bench-like window seats, and there are several, smaller rooms for study. Wood floors throughout the building give it a warm, welcoming feel.

Across from the library, 51 McInnes Road, a building with a beautiful bluestone and slate entryway, was built with apartmentstyle housing for four, six, or eight students. It houses 188 juniors and seniors, and serves as a showpiece for the Village apartment complex.

Up on the north side of campus, the existing Dolan Hall was given a top-to-bottom renovation to convert dorm rooms into apartments for juniors and seniors. The building’s former chapel has been turned into a study space with a loft-like social lounge. As an added bonus, Dolan Hall has some of the best views of Long Island Sound in town.

Sophomore Tom Dalo, a double major in accounting and finance, was thrilled to get a spot in 70 McCormick Road.

“It offers more amenities than other buildings, including two lounges on every floor, wood flooring, hotel-like bathrooms, and a great sense of warmth throughout,” he said.

Just as important, the design of the common spaces enhances living and learning opportunities among students. “Already McCormick has hosted several guest speakers, and Students for Justice members have their mentor meetings in the larger lounges. We really get to know one another,” Dalo said.

70 McCormickThe new building at 70 McCormick Road anchors the quad. Its first floor social commons (left) was designed to be a warm, homey spot for meetings, studying, and just hanging out.

The new residence halls were born out of the University’s master plan developed several years ago.

“We had done an environmental analysis and realized that our offerings could be better,” said Mark Reed, vice president for administration and the President’s chief of staff. “Juniors and seniors want alternatives to double-bed dorm rooms, and our competitors had them. A student’s living situation is a major component of the college experience, and we need to be attentive to that.”

Alleviating the overcrowding in the townhouses and the need to house three freshmen in rooms designed for two was also a priority.

“The economic climate actually made this a financially attractive time to build,” added Reed, though budget constraints did mean some planned renovations to other buildings had to be postponed.

“Creating large rooms and common spaces to support our living and learning communities was part of the plan,” added Karen Donoghue, dean of students. “McInnes, for example, has many communal spaces and a conference room to encourage clubs to meet. It’s also the building we will use as our conference center for groups coming in during the summer.”

Christopher Bertini ’12 shares his four-bedroom apartment in McInnes with seven others — there are two showers and toilets, and three sinks in the unit. What he appreciates most? “The fact that it’s brand new and in a great location on campus.”

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