Among the college’s construction projects which include the Matchbox, a new fitness and wellness building, Biology-Engineering-Psychology building, and the Swarthmore Inn to improve on and off-campus space is a plan to link Dana and Hallowell with new dorm rooms and a common space.
There has been no structure connecting the dorms except for the “Danawell” trailer, which was intended as a temporary measure. The construction will therefore provide a permanent space that connects the two dorms and will, like the trailer, serve as a social space. The current Danawell basement will be partially converted into a two story-high lobby, containing a multi-purpose common room, an outdoor patio, a kitchen and other facilities. The common room will be a space that can be used for various purposes, ranging from meetings to performances and parties.
Students who have been part of the committee planning process expressed a desire for more on-campus spaces for socialization, and the common room will satisfy some of these demands.
“Lounge space both big and large is what students tell us what they want,” Rachel Head, assistant dean for residential life said. “Danawell is down some lounge space right now and so students seem to be excited about gaining some of that space back and gaining an additional what could be an all-campus space, this multi-purpose space in the basement.”
In addition to the common lobby area connecting Dana and Hallowell, living space will also be expanded. The dorms currently hold three residence floors each, with a total of approximately 60 singles. Under the plan, the new section will have instead four residence floors, the additions containing all doubles.
This change will place 70 to 75 additional beds, which as Vice President for Facilities and Services Stu Hain points out, is “roughly the size of David Kemp and Alice Paul.” Through this addition, the board hopes to accommodate the growing student population and promote mixed class-year residence.
“The room types are all doubles and, again, that was an intentional decision because so much of the existing space is [occupied by] singles,” said Liz Braun, dean of students “so what we wanted to do was again help emphasize having all four class years living in the space, so we want to have a good mix of singles and doubles [throughout campus]”
The construction will also attempt to address Danawell’s lack of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessibility. To make the rooms more accessible, the path in front of the dorms will be regraded and a new main entrance will be created. The aspects of the construction geared to increase ADA accessibility are a continuation of other renovations that have been done previously:
“We’ve tried to make rooms available that meet the the Americans with Disabilities Act within all the clusters of dorms […] We’ve been able to and we will reinforce it at Willets, we certainly did it at Alice Paul and David Kemp,” said Hain.
Reconstructing Danawell is part of a greater agenda to improve usage of the college’s existing space, as the college is looking for other possible campus spaces for renovations and additions.
“Long term, it’s about thinking about both where we could add beds if we need them, but then apart from that, I think that Rachel and Stu and his team are always looking at the residence halls as a whole and looking for different opportunities to do upgrades and renovations along the way,” said Braun.
The board predicts that the construction will begin mid June 2014 and hopes that the dorms will be open for fall of 2015.