William & Mary

New dormitory provides upscale living

New dormsChristina Bolton had been waiting for the opening of school since she received her student staff assignment in February.

A senior psychology major, Bolton drew one of the plum resident-adviser assignments in Jamestown South. Combined with its sister building, Jamestown North, the residence-hall complex was completed this summer. The new dorms, which house a total of 389 students in two, four-story brick buildings—take their names from their location along Jamestown Road.

“It’s been incredibly exciting to see the buildings go up, and moving in last week was a little surreal,” said Bolton, whose dorm room comes complete with a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking Jamestown Road. “I must have spent at least an hour the first night here just wandering the halls and spot-checking the rooms.”

During the past 18 months, students, faculty and staff watched as a new era of residence halls and new landscape of the campus community developed along Jamestown Road. Jamestown North and South are the first dorms to be built at William and Mary since Preston and Nicholas halls, which are part of the Randolph Complex, opened in the fall of 1989.

The $29.7 million dorms are among several new structures opening this fall on campus. The newly constructed 518-space parking deck opened earlier this month as well. The $13.7 million building also houses the new offices of the William and Mary police department and parking services. The $11.9 million expansion and renovation of the recreation center near William and Mary Hall is also nearing completion and will open by Labor Day.

The new dorm buildings replace the Dillard Complex, a group of residence halls nearly three miles off campus that were necessary because of a lack of housing on the main campus. For nearly four decades, 269 undergraduates lived at the Dillard complex, which was closed last May, and were forced to commute to the main campus by bus or car.

lounges“We were never happy about assigning students to Dillard because of the distance,” said Sam Sadler, vice president for student affairs. “We’re very pleased that for the first time in more than 35 years, all of our undergraduate housing will be located here on campus.”

Bolton, who lived at Dillard during her sophomore year, said, “Jamestown has the biggest advantage of being on campus. Aside from the obvious perks of having everything brand-new, [the buildings] take advantage of the way the sun rises and sets over campus, where I remember my room in Dillard only getting indirect light most of the time.”

William and Mary junior Nyssa Perryman, who also is a resident adviser in the Jamestown Complex, lived in Dillard last year.

“I loved Dillard, but this is on campus and these are fabulous new dorms,” said Perryman. “I’m so lucky.”

With their dormer windows, slate roofs and brick detail, Sadler pointed out that the new Jamestown dorms will remind those on campus of the architectural style of the historic campus just a few hundred yards away across Landrum Drive. The large ceiling-to-floor windows and corner-window structures, called lanterns, however, also provide ample modern touches that serve as a bridge to the College’s nearby “new campus,” which refers to several buildings that were constructed in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

“We really tried to extend the feeling of the old campus into this area, but at the same time there is a hint of modernity that looks into the future,” said Sadler, pointing to the new buildings on Jamestown Road. “I think we’ve done that magnificently.”

Each floor in the new buildings has lounges that come complete with kitchens. There are numerous study lounges and recreation rooms scattered throughout the structures. Each floor also has 10-person clusters, which include six single rooms and two doubles. The clusters are designed to accommodate special-interest housing or groups of friends who simply want to live near each other, Sadler said. This fall, he added, the dorms will house two special-interest houses, the Italian House and the Mosaic House, which is a first-year special-interest group focused on multicultural issues. Jamestown North even has two soundproof rooms with pianos, something Sadler said is desperately needed on campus.

“I think students will find that they’ll have the privacy they desire and the quality of space they want, and yet, at the same time, the way the building has been designed, there are enough public spaces to pull students out and that community is going to be easy to develop,” Sadler said.

Large windows surround the buildings, and front porches, complete with rocking chairs and benches, give students a front-row seat to intramural sporting matches that will take place at the full-sized soccer field between the dorms and Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall. On the other side of the dorms, several areas are marked off for gardens, and a large grassy area will be maintained for student and community use, Sadler said.

“There’s a lot of green space here, and we tried to place the buildings in such a position that it was surrounded by open space,” Sadler said.

Sadler credited the buildings’ successful design to the partnership between the College, the contractor, the W.M. Jordan Company, based in Newport News, and the Boston-based architectural firm Sasaki Associates. Workers spent 10 hours a day, six days a week completing the new dorms in time to open this fall.

“This has been one of the best resident-hall projects I’ve ever been a part of,” said Sadler, adding that the design of the buildings, which include 90 single rooms and 148 doubles, took into account suggestions and ideas from students during the design process. With its use of windows for natural light and rooms that are individually climate-controlled, the new dorms are also the first residence halls at William and Mary designed to achieve leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED) “green building” certification, a distinction for constructing an environmentally friendly structure, Sadler said. The College is applying for the certification this fall.

“I think I’m most pleased with the fact that the College architects took a lot of student input into consideration when designing the buildings,” said Bolton, the resident adviser. “The plans combine many different living styles. There are more singles in this complex than in any other on campus and that was a response to a student survey.”

She added that she expects students will work hard to maintain the buildings.

“I think there will be a certain level of respect toward the building that you don’t find as much in the older, broken-in halls,” Bolton said. “I mean, this place is nice. Students are really going to take pride in this place and keep it nice.”