Dorm Renovated as Part of Residential Commons Expansion


The Residential Commons program, expected to be complete in 2018, seeks to create campus community.

Annie McDonough

The Residential Commons, a faculty-led housing program for all first-year and second-year students, is slated to be complete by 2018, and renovations of the residential facilities included in the project are already underway.

Development of the Residential Commons continued over the summer in various spaces, including the Bryan Complex and 94 Broad Street. More renovations are currently in progress at Stillman Hall. Last fall, Curtis Hall and Drake Hall debuted as the first completed portion of the Residential Commons. Together with 100 Broad Street, the renovated halls make up the Ciccone Commons, the first of four eventual commons included in the program.

Upgrades to Curtis and Drake included flooring replacement, painting, common area furniture replacement and the addition of a community kitchen, according to Director of Residential Housing Stacey Millard.

One of the preliminary renovations is the creation of a classroom in Curtis Hall, as the idea behind the Residential Commons is to foster a living-learning connection in residential facilities.

The other three commons included in the project, currently known as Commons Two, Commons Three and Commons Four, will be led by faculty co-directors, who are meant to engage with students beyond the classroom by holding classes and study groups and organizing cultural and recreational programming. The Ciccone Commons serves as a model for the living-learning connection, and is led by University Chaplain and Catholic Campus Minister Mark Shiner and Professor of Psychology Rebecca Shiner. 

Sophomore Sofia Velazquez lived in the newly renovated Ciccone Commons her first year at Colgate and currently lives in the Commons as a Community Leader (CL) in Drake Hall. 

“I think that these areas really feel like home, and the open spaces that are on almost every floor allow the students to have a place to hang out. It is a very inclusive environment. I always see residents hanging out in the common rooms, talking in the halls and collaborating on homework in the workspaces. The area is so nice that the students really want to be here,” Velazquez said. 

Renovations of the Bryan Complex and 94 Broad Street this past summer have also culminated to make up the second portion of the Residential Commons. According to Millard, work on the Bryan Complex includes flooring replacement, new lighting and updated common area furniture, as well as renovated suite bathrooms, additions to the Edge Café, a classroom, community kitchen, offices for the Commons staff and a renovated event space for the Commons and campus communities. Meanwhile, work on 94 Broad Street entailed painting, replacing flooring, expanding the kitchen and adding new common area furniture. 94 Broad Street will serve as a social space for all the students affiliated with a certain residential living community. Each residential living community will have its own Broad Street annex.

Sophomore Ben Locklin believes the renovations in the Bryan Complex will foster a more inclusive residential community. 

“I like Commons Two so far overall. The renovations allow for nicer common spaces, which makes everyone in Bryan Complex more likely to use them and socialize in them. The Commons events have also made it easy to meet people in my dorm,” Locklin said. 

Commons Two is led by Associate Professor of History and Africana & Latin American Studies Antonio Barrera and Senior Lecturer in Spanish Pilar Mejía-Barrera. 

While Andrews Hall will not be a part of Commons Two, Millard said the hall underwent renovations over the summer that included new flooring, new lighting, new furniture and updated bathrooms.

Renovations still underway this fall include Stillman Hall, which will be closed for the duration of this academic year. Work on the residence will include reconfiguring the building layout, renovating bathrooms and installing new flooring and lighting.

Millard discussed the tentative design of the space in Stillman Hall.

 “The details of this space are still to be determined, but we look forward to sharing plans with the campus community as they are developed,” Millard said.

When the Residential Commons project is complete, Andrews Hall, Stillman Hall, East Hall and West Hall will make up Commons Three and Four. Commons Three will be led by Assistant Professor of Film & Media Studies and Women’s Studies Mary Simonson and Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Jeff Bary, while Advancement Researcher Brenda Frey and Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies Frank Frey will lead Commons Four.

Millard said there are currently no plans to close any existing residences. However, she provided that the plan includes a new residential space as part of the Commons up the hill, as well as a social house on Broad Street for each of the Residential Commons. 

Millard said that student and faculty input is crucial in the development of the Residential Commons concept.

“Given how foundational the residence hall living experience is to the Colgate experience, feedback is essential from all [constituents],” Millard said.

Millard said that new information about the Residential Commons and the progress of renovations currently underway will be released regularly.