On Monday, the Dormitory Council held a meeting about the current architectural plans for turning the Metropolitan Storage Warehouse on Mass. Ave. into an undergraduate dorm. The organization’s executives discussed the dorm’s proposed layout, addressed student concerns, and requested additional ideas.
How to bring natural light into the dorm was the first issue to be discussed. The facade of the warehouse cannot be changed for historical reasons, meaning both the small windows and the large lettering on the side will remain. So, in order to allow sunlight in, the architectural plans include a feature called “light wells.” These are 13-to-15-foot-wide enclosed glass shafts that stretch all the way from the ground floor to the roof, allowing sunlight in. According to the current plans, residential rooms will each have one entire wall facing into a light well.
The second through fifth floors of the dorm will be mostly residential space. Residential floors will be split into suites composed of singles, doubles, triples, and quads, with about 10 students living in a suite. Each suite will have its own lounge. The hallways will be wide enough that they will be called “atriums” and will be able to hold furniture. The dorm will house 416 students total.
Besides residential space, the dorm will include a dining hall, currently split between the third and fourth floors (with a servery on the third floor and seating on the fourth), a makerspace, a public study space, retail space (such as a bookstore or a cafe), a theater, a gym, bike storage, presentation spaces, and possibly other amenities. The sixth floor will be surrounded by glass, with a view of the Boston skyline. The presence of the dining hall will likely mean that students living in the dorm will be required to buy a meal plan, since that is the current rule for dining hall dorms, although it “hasn’t been discussed” yet, according to DormCon vice president Caitlin A. Heber ’16.
Security was another concern. In the current plans, there will be both a resident entrance and a public entrance on the first floor. The security desk will be just inside the public entrance. There will be public elevators that go to the dining floors and the sixth floor. There will also be private elevators for residents. DormCon representatives are pushing for the private elevators not to require card access in order to better facilitate visitors to the residential floors.
Students at the Monday meeting expressed a variety of additional concerns. How might the architecture influence the way floor or suite cultures develop? Will there be enough lounge space, and what will the best locations for such spaces be? Also, will the laundry room be big enough? Will security processes flow smoothly? Are the elevators and stairs in convenient places? How accessible will the makerspace be?
The plans are still very much in flux, according to DormCon president Yonadav G. Shavit ’16. DormCon is looking for input from students as to the layout and the usage of various spaces in the dorm. Additional meetings will be held in every dorm on campus over the next two weeks. Heber said that they are also looking for another member, “ideally a freshman or sophomore,” for the student committee in charge of advising the architects and MIT Facilities about the new dorm.