A few weeks ago, Residential Services sent out an e-mail containing a survey about a new residence hall project at 75 Grove Street. The survey was used to determine the size of this new residence hall, which will be located between the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house and the Courtyard Marriott.
The addition of a new residence hall is not terribly surprising. Each incoming freshman class has steadily increased by a hundred or so students per year. This year, more dorm rooms were converted into triples and quads to accommodate the growing student body.
This new project raises some questions about the increasing number of WPI undergraduates. It may appear that this addition is some sort of indication that WPI will continue to expand its population.
President Berkey contradicted that notion, however, saying: “It’s not so much about growth but about sustainability. We want to make sure we can provide full amenities for our students on campus. We saw a need for more on-campus housing, and this new residence hall will provide that.”
According to President Berkey, WPI has almost reached its maximum in regards to the number of undergraduate students. The 75 Grove St. building will be used to fulfill the needs of the current student population and not to attract larger class sizes. He did say that the school might look to increase the size of its graduate programs, especially as Gateway Park will be further developed and the need for Ph.D. students will grow.
The undertaking of this project is yet another bullet point on an already extensive list of construction projects. The new recreation center is set to be completed later this year, and renovations will be made to Alumni Gym in the coming years. Renovations were also made to the Project Center, Stratton Hall and Alden Hall this past summer.
The 75 Grove St. project, however, is proving to be a necessary addition to the WPI campus. According to Janet Richardson of Residential Services, who coordinated the research in the project development, the new residence hall would be available to sophomores, juniors and seniors as early as 2013. The building would contain a common entryway leading to separate apartment complexes. The apartments would be suite-style with a kitchen and common area.
According to President Berkey, WPI is aiming to make this new building akin to East Hall, both in design and in the services it would provide.
In regards to the building’s aesthetic quality, he said he is “happy with the way East turned out, and how the new recreation center is turning out. It’s very streamlined, very modern. It suits a tech school.”
One of the main concerns about the building is its geographical placement. According to Richardson, “Trowbridge Street was also considered, but the piece of land would not accommodate the residence hall, and the parking area that would be required.”
Although Grove St. is not directly on the main WPI campus, Naomi Carton of Residential Services said that WPI “will provide a shuttle service like we currently are providing for Salisbury Estates for students to get from the campus to Gateway to this new building.” The location could also be ideal for those MQP students that live in Gateway Park, or those that wish to get off campus with some of the conveniences of being on campus.
Plans for the 75 Grove St. project are still being finalized, but, without a doubt, there will be a new option at Housing Selection Night in the next year or two.