Over the past few years, Brandeis’ lack of housing availability has become one of the most frequently discussed topics on campus. According to Vice President of Student Affairs Andrea Dine, Brandeis administration has been making efforts to respond to these criticisms. In an April 2 interview with The Justice, Dine discussed the University’s plans to build a new residence hall, expected to open no later than fall 2027. 

Though the design of the new residence hall is not yet determined, Dine established that the plans to build it have been solidified. She and Vice President for Campus Planning and Operations Lois Stanley, are co-chairs of the project and have been working on it for around two years. Dine highlighted that Stanley has previously worked on the Tufts University campus as director of Campus and Capital Renewal Planning. 

The goal for the new residence hall is to house 650 students, a huge undertaking. Where will the building go? According to Dine, new housing will likely be built either in the areas that are currently the X-lot, the T-lot or both. While this choice may come as a surprise, Dine explained that the increasing transition to remote work has caused fewer parking spaces to be necessary. In her words, “we’re not using parking the same way we used to when every single staff and faculty member was here every day, five days a week.” She clarified that a parking study will take place as a part of this project to more accurately assess the ramifications of building over one or both of the lots. 

As designs for the building aren’t yet in existence, the style and layout of the new residence hall is currently unknown. Additionally, Dine discussed the possibility of multiple buildings, spanning across one or both of the parking lots. Dine explained that this building will most likely be “flexible” in terms of which class year it will be built to house. Looking ahead, she anticipates that this project will be one of the early steps of a long-term effort to slowly renovate and replace all of Brandeis’ current housing. 

Currently, Brandeis is in the process of choosing a designer and architect for the building. Dine and Stanley are looking specifically to find candidates whose priorities for the new hall align with theirs. These priorities include sustainability, accessibility and accommodations, spaces for community building and student input throughout the design process. Dine is especially hopeful about the prospect of creating a space designed to foster community development. “What does it look like to have a space that has a dedicated community purpose?” She asks. 

According to Dine, the project team will start looking for students to participate in the process as soon as the beginning of summer break. She elaborates on the elevated role of student input in the process, noting that it is unusual for the Division of Student Affairs to be involved in campus construction in the first place. In her words, “we mean business when we say it needs to be a student-focused building.” 

Dine also detailed the finances involved in creating a new residence hall. The majority of the initial funds to build this new building were raised through Brandeis Institutional Advancement. According to Dine, the loans from the remaining costs will be paid using revenues from the building’s room fees once it opens. She anticipates that balancing the cost of the residence hall and all of its intended goals will be a challenge. 

Other challenges that Dine anticipates involve the physical process of building a residence hall in the parking lot area. In addition to concerns about having fewer parking spaces on campus, Dine points out the physical difficulty of having to break through the concrete and evaluate what type of buildings is possible to construct in the space that is left. 

Though the project has a long way to go, Dine expressed her excitement about the new residence hall coming into fruition. According to her, one design team has nicknamed the project “Ridgeline,” playing off of the already existing Skyline. “I think we have creative minds at the University that can come up with more exciting names,” Dine commented.