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New residential hall construction begins this summer

In an attempt to encourage more juniors and seniors to live on campus, Rollins will be constructing a new residence hall. The new hall will be located towards the center of campus beside the lake, where the facilities buildings and McKean Hall are currently located.

The building has yet to be named, and the specifics of the design and architecture have yet to be drawn up. The project is being planned in phases, with the first phase tentatively scheduled to open in the fall of 2019.

Currently, many juniors and seniors opt to live off campus as their time at Rollins comes to an end. The administration feels this opposes the mission of Rollins as an institution, as well as the concept of small liberal arts colleges as a whole.

“Rollins is a residential college on purpose. We believe that living and learning on campus is an integral part of a Rollins education,” said President Cornwell.

“We believe that the process of living together educates, especially in a diverse campus community. So much learning takes place outside the classroom in conversations around campus, in student organizations, attending music, theater, and art events, attending lectures, and in the general give and take of enjoying and negotiating daily life together in an intimate community. If we could, the educational ideal would be to have all Rollins students live on campus all four years,” he continued.

While student opinions on housing vary widely, some are open to the idea of living on campus for the entirety of their Rollins career, although with some reservation.

Ryann Blennerhassett ‘20, who will be a senior when the first phase of construction is set to open, commented, “I would definitely consider staying on campus if another residence hall is constructed. One of my reasons for wanting to move off campus is because it is difficult to have access to a clean kitchen and bathrooms. If a new residence hall is constructed that resembles Sutton I would be more inclined to stay on campus all four years.”

However, some students feel very differently about the topic, specifically because of the steep price of on-campus living.

“I think it’s unrealistic based on the high price of on campus living, as many people can’t afford that extra year. Where off campus options can limit expenses.” said Jamie Ernst ‘19, who is experiencing her first year living off-campus.

She also noted that by building another residential hall, space would be taken up for parking.  “I think parking is already terrible and therefore having additional people living on campus would only increase the congestion and lack of availability at parking lots near resident halls.”

Meghan Harte Weyant, assistant vice president of student affairs and dean of students, claimed that the addition would bring both an educational and physical enhancement to the college.

“We are creating a physical space that intentionally engages the College’s academic mission. The intention of this space is that it not only continues to reflect the physical beauty of our campus, but that it serves to holistically support student well-being,” she said.

In line with the views of President Cornwell, she added that “juniors and seniors are critical to our educational community. The residential liberal arts experience hinges on a vibrant campus community where students live and learn with one another.”

Dean Weyant was unable to confirm rumors that the new hall would be largely comprised of suites, noting that the administration is still “in conversation about the design and room types.”

However, the architects are secured. According to the Dean of Students’ office, the project is being undertaken by Florida native SchenkelShultz Architecture, who worked on the Global UCF building as well as the Valencia campus at Lake Nona.

National firm Robert A.M. Stern Architects (RAMSA) will also be a part of the project. Their portfolio includes over 80 academic projects, including the Spangler Campus Center at Harvard and the Benjamin Franklin College at Yale.

As the design process continues and eventually gives way to execution, the Dean of Students Office will be the primary source of information and updates.

While the design process is still in relative infancy, the portfolios of these firms show a wide range of architectural style.

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