New Ridgewood Residence Halls

Programming work for the new Ridgewood Residence Halls was facilitated by Tom Hier of Biddison Hier, the consultant who assisted the university in developing the foundations for its strategic housing plan in 1999-a plan the university has been implementing since that time.

In September 2005, Tom met with university leadership, including Jean Eddy, and with AVP/Dean of Student Life Rick Sawyer and Associate Dean Maggie Balch (then director of residence life), as well as with many student groups to assess the current state of university housing and to develop goals for the new residence hall. Consistent with the university's long-term strategic housing plan, the new residence hall is expected to provide approximately 184 new beds, primarily for seniors, more or less on the site of the existing Ridgewood Quad, which will be removed.

The architectural firm of William Rawn Associates has completed design for the project. That process began a series of Pre-Design Cost Control Workshops that took place between May and June 2006. Those workshops involved looking closely at site utilization, interior and exterior standards and MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) and FP (fire protection) standards, with a view to understanding the costs associated with various proposed project element options, to facilitate cost-effective decision-making on the part of the university.

Throughout the workshops, emphasis was placed on environmentally responsible design, consistent with the university's commitment to design and construction of all capital projects at Brandeis.

Project specifics have been developed building on the work done in the early Pre-Design Cost Control workshops, with input, since the completion of the workshops, from a Project Advisory Group that includes Associate Vice President for Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy, Dean of Student Life Rick Sawyer, Assistant Dean Maggie Balch and Director of Residence Life Rich DeCapua, with key staff members from the Division of Student Affairs, as well as four students, who have been intensely engaged in the process and very helpful. There has also been broader student input at two open forums the first held on Feb. 8, 2007, and the most recent on Sept. 19, 2007.

The overall concept for the project, involving removal of Ridgewood Quad and Ziv Quad and the creation of three new buildings to provide 184 new beds in apartment-style housing—with all single bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms—was strongly prioritized by Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy and her staff.

Building A (the northernmost of the three) will include the South Campus Commons, a 3,200-square-foot multipurpose space for events, dances, presentations and general student use. A kitchen in the South Campus Commons will allow for larger group meals.

The project will also create three important new landscape spaces:

1) An Admissions Quad, from which the current admissions parking lot will be reduced (but devoted, during the day, entirely to admissions parking, providing needed added capacity) and shifted, to make way for a new green space and a continuation of the central pedestrian spine, a key concept called for in the campus master plan and implemented in part in conjunction with the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Campus Center and the Village Residence Hall;

2) A new South Campus Quad, framed by the three buildings of the new Ridgewood Residence Halls and the Village;


3) An open space framed by Building B within the new Ridgewood Residence Halls and the north and west buildings of Ziv Quad, strengthening the overall connection to Ziv Quad. In addition, the space south of Shapiro Admissions Center, currently a low point against a tall retaining wall, will be filled in to establish a landscape connection to the Theater Lot (a possible future development site in the campus master plan). The path to be created through this space will be ADA accessible, as will other new paths to be created in the area, for the first time making the entire south residential precinct navigable for people with mobility challenges.

Also included in the new Ridgewood Residence Halls are a Quad Director's office, a shared office for Community Advisors and an apartment for the Quad Director, located in Building B. The apartments themselves are grouped four per floor in Building A, with five apartments per floor in Buildings B and C.

Floor layouts are highly efficient, with minimal amounts of corridor. In each building, the primary corridor, which in student residence halls typically functions as a social space, will be located transversely and will have a window at each end. Site utilization and massing are also highly efficient. Late-night dining, a high priority identified in the programming work, is planned to be located in the until-now unassigned space in the Village residence hall.

In summer 2007, the Ridgewood Residence Quad and Ziv Commons were razed to make way for the new Ridgewood Residence Halls. In creating the new Ridgewood Residence Halls, high priority has been placed on environmentally responsible design and construction practices. As an early step toward achieving the environmental goals established for the project, ninety percent of the debris from those demolitions was recycled.

Other elements of environmentally responsible design and construction in the project include careful siting of the buildings to maximize sun control, stormwater collection in underground tanks with gradual release back into the ground, extensive use of daylighting with dual-level lighting controls, use of recycled and recyclable materials (everything from steel with recycled content, to drywall, to carpeting, to furniture), use of locally manufactured materials to reduce energy use for transportation, dual-flush toilets, low-flow showerheads, use of zero- and low-VOC paints and adhesives, high-efficiency glazing and many other elements.

Demolition was completed in July 2007, followed immediately by site preparation, excavation and installation of utilities. Creation of building footings and foundations began in late October 2007, and was completed in February 2008. Structural steel for Building A began in mid-December and was completed in mid-January 2008.

Brickwork for all buildings was completed in summer 2008, and the glass curtainwalls around the South Campus Commons were installed in late August 2008. Window installations for all buildings, and MEP work and interior fitout in all buildings were completed in the fall of 2008.

Construction was completed on schedule, in December 2008. As planned, occupancy took place at the start of the spring 2009 semester. The total project cost was $35 million. The new Ridgewood Residence Halls have been designed by William Rawn Associates. Construction management for this project has been provided by John Moriarty & Associates.

Final landscaping for the new Ridgewood Quad took place in spring 2009. When the Shapiro Admissions Center project was (later) completed, the campus's central pedestrian spine that runs between the Village and the new Ridgewood Residence Halls was connected through a new green space by an additional section of the pedestrian spine, leading to the section that runs aside the Great Lawn in front of the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Campus Center; that work took place in fall 2009.

Elements of sustainable design and construction incorporated in the New Ridgewood Residence Halls are highlighted on the sustainability signs displayed in all three buildings.