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Winter 2009 (March 6, 2009)

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March 9, 2009

RESIDENTIAL LIVING IS A DISTINCTIVE characteristic of small liberal arts colleges. In an engaged learning and living community like Carleton, students spend a lot of time outside of class: studying, eating, hanging out with friends, and participating in a vast array of cocurricular and extracurricular activities. The College’s facilities, while they are often in the background of the Carleton experience, do influence how the community is shaped. And no facility is more important to the College’s residential life than the halls in which students live.
“Structures are crucial to a healthy community,” says Steve Wisener, director of residential life, noting that Carleton tries to provide students with a good balance between private space and areas where they can come together for dining, studying, and socializing. In recent years, however, Carleton has experienced some overcrowding in its dorms due to slightly increased enrollments, and also has seen a rise in the number of students living off campus. Increasing the College’s housing capacity became a priority, and in 2006 Carleton began planning new student residences. In October 2007 the Board of Trustees approved the construction of two full-scale residential facilities, the first dorms the College has erected since Watson Hall was built in 1967.

Carleton broke ground in May 2008 on the project, with a projected construction cost of $21.5 million and an overall cost of $27.5 million. Named Cassat Hall and Memorial Hall, the four-story buildings will open to students in August 2009. Located on the southeast side of campus and linked by an underground tunnel, the halls will house 230 students from all class years, with more than half living in traditional singles and doubles in Cassat Hall and nearly 100 living in suites in Memorial Hall. Both halls, which have been designed with an eye toward sustainability, include numerous shared spaces to encourage community life and innovative features new to residential living at Carleton.

“Our goal in designing these buildings was to create community between residents at different levels—with a roommate or suitemates, as part of a hallway or floor, and then as part of the building as a whole,” says architect Kim Bretheim of LHB, the Minnesota architectural firm that designed both halls. The architects planned the buildings to fit with the surrounding facilities and the neighborhood.

Charlotte Turovsky ’11 (Larchmont, N.Y.), one of three student representatives on Carleton’s Residence Hall Project Advisory Committee, participated in many discussions about the location, size, and type of the shared spaces.

“One of the wonderful things about the dorms is the lounges,” Turovsky says. “They’re near the stairwells intentionally, so that as you make your way to your room, you can see who’s there and what they’re doing. You might stop in and hang out, watch TV, have a conversation, procrastinate.” She also notes the clustering of rooms at the end of the Cassat hallways, which gives the traditional-style dorm a more “neighborhood-like feel,” she says.

The new halls will bring more students back to living on campus, enabling the College to fulfill its promise of a truly residential collegiate experience. “We value the cocurricular, outside-the-classroom experience of residential living,” Wisener says. “We are being intentional in creating a home for students of all years, with the amenities they want.”

Dorms For the Ages

When students move into Cassat Hall and Memorial Hall in fall 2009, they will be living in dorms with shared spaces designed to foster a robust community life, including:

  • A main first-floor lounge in each building; Cassat Hall's lounge is large enough to accommodate all 230 residents from both buildings
  • A floor lounge with attached kitchen on the second, third, and fourth floor of each building
  • Hallway nooks for small gatherings
  • A large game room with nearby kitchen, vending area, and laundry room in the basement of Cassat Hall
  • Five study rooms, two with audio/visual capability
  • Landscaped outdoor seating areas
  • Footpaths generating traffic flow between new halls and other nearby residence halls: Nourse, Watson, Evans, and Myers

Home, green home

Cassat Hall and Memorial Hall, with exteriors of durable brick, stone, and clay tile, are of an environmentally sustainable design, as certified by the Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) system. Both structures will earn a LEED gold rating by complying with the U.S. Green Building Council’s standards in sustainable design, construction, and operation. Highlights include:

  • Buildings situated to create a green quadrangle bordered by the Language and Dining Center, 
Nourse Hall, and Myers Hall
  • A real-time energy-use monitoring system. Each floor in Cassat Hall and each suite in Memorial Hall will have meters to track energy usage as it’s happening. A display panel in the lobby of each building will compare floors/suites to illustrate the impact of individual behavior (such as leaving electronics plugged in indefinitely or running water needlessly) on energy consumption.
  • A radiant in-floor heating system, which is more comfortable and saves energy compared to conventional heating by allowing for an overall 
lower thermostat setting
  • Lighting and heating controls in individual rooms
  • Solar thermal hot water system that heats about 
40 percent of the halls’ water
  • Floors in main lounges made from salvaged wood; hallway trim made from ash trees removed from 
the site; resilient, PVC-free tile flooring in individual student rooms
  • Plumbing fixtures that reduce water consumption to 
30 percent less than a traditional building would use
  • Green housekeeping program that eliminates toxic cleaning products
  • Landscaping with a rain garden to collect storm 
water runoff and native vegetation that doesn’t 
require irrigation
  • Parking lots with porous paving material; designated preferred parking spaces for car pools and fuel-efficient vehicles

By the Numbers

Cassat Hall

  • 52,160 square feet
  • Four stories
  • 138 beds to be occupied by students in all class years
  • 56 double-occupancy rooms, ranging in size from 192 to 230 square feet
  • 26 single-occupancy rooms, ranging in size from 114 to 150 square feet (the majority are 145 square feet)
  • A 246-square-foot laundry room in the basement
  • Five kitchens, one next to each of the floor lounges and one in the basement
  • One data and one telephone port available to each student
  • Three public restrooms
  • 11 restrooms—with showers, toilets, and lavatories—near student rooms
  • One head resident apartment

Memorial Hall

  • 39,376 square feet
  • Four stories
  • 92 beds to be occupied mainly 
by juniors and seniors
  • 21 suites: 8 housing five students each, 13 housing four students each
  • The quints: three single sleeping rooms, one double sleeping room, a common living area, and a bathroom
  • The quads: two single sleeping rooms, one double sleeping room, a common living area, and a bathroom
  • Kitchenette with sink, refrigerator, and microwave oven in every suite
  • One data and one telephone 
port available to each student, 
with additional ports in each 
suite's common area
  • Four full kitchens, next to each 
floor lounge
  • Four small laundry rooms, ranging 
in size from 63 to 76 square feet
  • 38 bike-storage slots in the basement

Follow the construction progress of the new residence halls at