Update on Castle
Jan. 25, 2016
Dear Members of the Brandeis Community,
Over the past year, we have been gathering information and carefully considering plans for the future of Usen Castle, one of the oldest buildings on campus. The Castle has long been a meaningful spot for generations of Brandeisians. Unfortunately, it was not built to the highest standards when constructed during the Great Depression, and it is understandably showing significant signs of advancing age.
Last semester, we assembled a team of experts in the fields of architecture; project management; and structural, mechanical and civil engineering to study the Castle inside and out, and help us work through our different options.
Now, drawing on the data and advice we have collected, we have devised an approach to developing the Castle site, which the Board of Trustees has approved moving forward with.
Under this plan, Towers A and B, which have been the best-preserved sections and encompass the Castle’s most iconic and visible parts, including Chum’s Coffee House, will be retained as is for now. With the exception of Chum’s, which we expect will remain open, these sections will be unoccupied while the university further analyzes options and possible fundraising opportunities for their future.
This plan would allow Brandeis to build new residences on the Castle site that would meet modern standards of student living and energy efficiency, and would be designed to allow full accessibility. They would accommodate approximately 160 students, a 60 percent increase over the previous number of students living in the Castle, thereby improving housing availability on campus. To accommodate the new student residences, Towers C, D and E, and Schwartz Castle — all nearing the end of their useful life — would be taken down.
Although we are still in the planning phase, we expect the Castle project timeline to unfold as follows:
- During 2016, architectural plans for the new residences will be finalized, with input from the Castle Advisory Group, composed of faculty, trustees, alumni, staff and students. We will also work with officials from the city of Waltham during this stage and seek all necessary approvals.
- Students will be able to live in the Castle through the end of the 2016 fall semester. (All students living in the Castle will be offered alternative on-campus housing starting winter 2017.)
- In spring 2017, site work is expected to begin. The portions of the Castle to be removed will be taken down after the 2017 spring semester ends.
- Construction of the new residences will begin in June or July 2017 and is expected to be completed by August 2018. (During the construction period, we will continue to guarantee campus housing to first- and second-year students.)
- We anticipate that Chum’s will be able to remain open during the construction period, and beyond.
To keep you informed, we will provide regular updates on the Castle project website as major milestones are reached. Please check the site for additional information as the project proceeds.
Lisa M. Lynch
Vice President for Campus Operations