Castle replacement will be eco-friendly
With its new residence hall — set to be completed in summer 2018 — the University will be emphasizing aesthetics and eco-friendly features, according to Vice President for Campus Operations Jim Gray.
Set to cost an estimated $38,000,000, the new housing will notably feature a 30- to 40-well geothermal heating and cooling system, which will use energy from the earth to offset the use of fossil fuels. “The heat and cooling system of the building will largely be driven by the geothermal well system, which uses the constant temperature in the ground to heat the building in the winter and cool the temperature in the summer,” Gray said in a joint meeting with the Brandeis Hoot and the Justice.
Gray added that the geothermal system will be the first of its kind on campus. Many other residence halls on campus rely on steam heating, while the Foster Mods and Charles River Apartments use electrical heating appliances, according to the Housing Rights and Responsibilities Handbook.
In addition to the more eco-friendly heating and cooling, the new residence hall will have solar panels on its roof, which Gray said will partially power the building, in addition to slightly cutting the University’s carbon consumption.
The University will also be focusing on aesthetics as the new building is designed and constructed; according to Gray, the new building will feature a more open main stairway, with larger windows around the building that will allow students to better appreciate the view.
Gray pointed to the slanted hallways as visually interesting, explaining that they should avoid the long-hallway effect found in some dorms on campus. “There is a nice feature on each of the floors, overlooking the courtyard,” he added.
The new courtyard, which will feature open space and relatively minimal decorations, will be accessible to all community members, not just residents of the new housing.
“When you do that, it certainly becomes a place [to] play frisbee and do some other things you want to do in an open space,” Gray said, adding that there might be some plants, bushes and small trees in the area.
The building will also include study areas and four common area lounges with accommodation for eight to 12 people, two with televisions, one with a kitchen and an open courtyard. “We’ve got a lot of great common space in this building,” Gray said, adding that an area called the “upper campus commons” can hold up to 100 people for lectures, presentations and club events.
In addition to elevators, the new housing will also add approximately 60 more beds from the previous residence hall, bringing the total up to 164. These beds will be divided up into double and single rooms, Gray said.
While scaffolding and fencing went up around the Castle in January, the University will wait to start demolition until after finals in May. Renovations of the Castle’s A and B Towers will follow, with the University renovating Cholmondeley’s Coffee House over the summer with input from students, according to Gray.
“It is going to be a time that is relatively noisy and disruptive, probably mostly [to] the people in East [Quad],” Gray admitted, though he said the noise would be relatively contained and kept to a minimum.
William Rawn Associates will head the architectural side of the project, with Leggat McCall Properties covering project management and Shawmut Design and Construction working in tandem.
The residence hall, which will utilize stonework in its design, will also be a more pedestrian-friendly area than the Castle, Gray said. He explained that the new quad will focus more on landscaping and common areas than on parking spaces.
Though the new dorm is yet to be named, Gray said the University is still keeping an eye out for any donors looking for naming opportunities.
Regarding the effect the Castle’s closure has on this year’s housing system, Gray remarked, “One step back is what it takes to [go] two steps forward.”