New Residence Hall Will Add Rooms and Incorporate Perry House Program

Posted July 22nd, 2013 at 2:23 pm.

The below email was sent by Interim President Kim Cassidy on Monday, July 22.

To the Bryn Mawr Community,

I’m writing to share exciting news. The Board of Trustees has approved a plan for a Haffner Student Housing Project, which will provide for the renovation of a portion of Haffner Hall, the demolition of a portion of Haffner, and an addition that will give the College its first new student housing in nearly 45 years. The plan—which was among those favored by the Student Housing Options Committee made up of students, staff, and faculty—provides for additional residential rooms on campus and a dedicated space that would encompass and expand the uses of the historic Perry House.

There are three primary goals for the Haffner Student Housing Project:

  1. Embrace and embody the Perry House Program. Perry House was originally a residence purchased by the College about 50 years ago and, in the 1970s, it became the Black Cultural Center and a residence hall with a capacity to house seven students. The renovation plan for Haffner will bring the Black Cultural Center and increased housing for traditionally under-represented student groups onto the main campus. The renovation plan also honors the historic role of Perry House by creating a specifically designed space for the programming offered for and by under-represented groups, and by making it more accessible to all students.
  2. Redesign and re-envision the intersection of Yarrow and N. Merion Avenues in order to improve the appearance of the Haffner site and to better incorporate it into the campus.
  3. Increase bed capacity to 130 with 110 single rooms and 10 double rooms. This increase of more than 50 beds to the campus will not only house the former number of residents of Perry House, but also expand the number of students who can choose to live in the new Perry House. The increase in housing capacity will make it possible to bring back to campus 22 students the College pays to house in an apartment building adjacent to campus. We’ll also gain the capacity to accommodate an expansion of the student body by five-to-10 students and to redistribute students in current housing over a greater number of total rooms.

The project originated through a combination of circumstances and planning. As many of you know, Haffner Hall had to be closed at the end of the last semester, when routine planned improvements exposed the need for more extensive asbestos remediation. The high cost of the remediation, coupled with ongoing planning to address the closing of Perry House and other housing issues, presented an opportunity to address multiple concerns at once in a financially responsible manner.

While we looked at a variety of options, this option makes the most sense as it provides the most generous options for programming space, gives us greater overall flexibility for housing students in the future, and saves us money by bringing students back to campus. The project enables us to keep and renovate one section of Haffner in order to provide the maximum amount of residential and program space within an acceptable budget amount.

The renovated Haffner portion will become the new Perry House, with a kitchen and programmatic space on the first floor and residential space on the second and third floors for about 25 students. The new Perry House will connect its second and third stories to the new addition, which will have an elevator, making the building completely accessible. Haffner Dining Hall is not part of the renovation project and will remain open throughout construction.

This project will cost approximately $18 million. But this wasn’t just a dollars and cents decision. In following this plan, the College will prioritize our historic and ongoing commitments to Perry House and the Black Cultural Center, improve the appearance and function of a key location on campus, and increase our capacity to house students. During the construction period, we will have to be creative in how and where we house some juniors and seniors. A few of the things we will be doing include:

  • increasing housing capacity on campus by increasing density to accommodate an additional 22 students;
  • renting eight apartments in an apartment building that is owned by Haverford College and is adjacent to the Haverford campus;
  • renting an additional seven apartments in the apartment building adjacent to campus in which we are already housing students;
  • renting five apartments in a privately-owned student residence adjacent to the St. Joseph’s campus in West Philadelphia. These apartments are across the street from a train station where there are frequent 10- to 15-minute train trips to Bryn Mawr; the College will cover the additional expense of train travel.

None of these moves will affect first- or second-year students. Students are already finding these alternatives desirable and volunteering for them. The Deans Office and Residential Life will work with students to minimize the impact of these temporary arrangements. Students and parents with specific questions should contact Director of Residential Life Angie Sheets. Faculty and staff with questions should contact Chief Administrative Officer Jerry Berenson.

I want to extend my deepest thanks to the students, faculty, and staff members of the Student Housing Options Committee for their thoughtful and careful consideration of the opportunities and challenges of our current housing situation. The Committee included students Sasha De La Cruz, Marissa Jackson, Alexis De La Rosa, Esteniolla Maitre, Angel Suero, Danielle Cadet, and Khadijah Seay; faculty Pim Higginson and Alison Cook-Sather; and staff members Michele Rasmussen and Jerry Berenson.

This group did an amazing job of understanding and attending to the many different perspectives and ideas about what was needed, while at the same time being responsible about the realities of the College’s finances. By helping the College develop this exciting and feasible solution, the committee ensured that students and the community will be served well into the future. The work of this committee is a wonderful testament to the strength of bringing different constituencies from the community together to solve challenging problems.

The project is scheduled to be completed in August 2015. I look forward to sharing plans and updates with you in the months ahead.

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