Blonk. Blonk. Blonk.
Oh, the sweet sound of construction in the morning. As anyone who lived in Towers last year will undoubtedly have realized, changes were a-comin’ to the newly named Jackson Court. And oh, have they come.
Plans for a new residence hall were announced in August 2011 and construction began in September of that year. Work continued through the 2011-12 academic year and concluded in time for students to move in to O’Brien Hall, named for University’s eighth president, Dennis O’Brien, this fall.
The five-story, 52,00-square-foot building houses 148 beds in a mixture of singles, doubles and adjoining doubles which share a bathroom, in addition to study rooms and lounges. It also contains a community area on the first floor, as well as a meeting room and dance rehearsal space which are available to the entire student body.
Junior Rachel Kurtzman, a resident adviser on the fifth floor of O’Brien, noted that the flat screen TVs, present in the lounges on each floor, get used a lot, and that she appreciates the abundance of community areas.
“It’s really nice to see upperclassman have a communal space,” she said.
On the whole, the building feels fresh. The colors are vibrant, the halls show no signs of wear (yet) and copious amounts of natural lighting indicate that it is not at risk of dingy-dorm syndrome. On the whole, it is reminiscent of Gleason Library, dorm edition.
The rooms themselves are stocked with milk chocolate-colored furniture — beds, desks, wardrobes, dressers and, a novelty in campus housing, bookshelves. The doubles are particularly spacious and, as a plus, carpeted. Singles are also carpeted and smaller, but are in no way inferior to their larger counterparts. Both options give Crosby and Burton halls a run for their money by providing one of the Residential Quad dorms’ biggest draws — a sink. Akin to the rest of the building, the rooms have plenty of light coming from a bright overhead and a hefty window.
“I like it; everything’s nice and new,” junior Katie Adams said.
She decided to live in O’Brien primarily because she wanted a single and preferred not to live on the Res Quad because she had lived in The Susan B. Anthony Residence Halls and Hill Court in previous years and wanted to live in a similar location. The one complaint she had was that O’Brien feels “more like a hotel” as she doesn’t see many other people around the building on a regular basis.
Sophomore Jenny Park had a similarly positive attitude toward O’Brien. She explained that she chose to live in the new dorm because she had been unhappy with the state of Sue B., where she lived her freshman year.
“[There are] definitely pros and cons, but there are definitely more benefits,” she said. Park noted that she enjoys that the overall cleanliness of O’Brien and that the building is, in many ways, eco-friendly. For example, students can flush the toilet up or down, depending on how much water they feel they need to use.
O’Brien also has many desirable attributes that aren’t necessarily available in all other dorms. Both sophomore Leti Nunez and junior Charlie Aquilina cited air conditioning as a big draw. Aquilina, who lived in Crosby last year, explained that he used to have trouble sleeping because it often got so hot in Crosby, but hasn’t had any similar issues this year.
“Here, I sleep like a baby,” he said.
Life isn’t all a bed of roses in O’Brien, though.
One of the most common complaints about the new residence hall is the bathrooms. The fact that water tends to collect excessively on the floors irks Nunez and junior Jacob Prah. Another often-voiced concern is the lack of a full kitchen — the one in O’Brien only has a fridge, freezer, sink and table.
Also new to the area which surrounds O’Brien and Anderson and Wilder towers is Jackson Court. The newly renovated space appears to create an atmosphere with an increased sense of community — the entrance to Anderson has been moved to the side of the building which looks toward Wilder so that the two dorms, along with O’Brien, all face each other in their own personal enclosure. Students flow in and around the area, forming a small quad-like space, similar to Southside Living Center.
Although O’Brien has its minor flaws, the overall take on the new dorm appears to be a positive one.
“I like it a lot,” senior Sam Stewart said. “I’ve never really been this far from the academic buildings, which is a little annoying, but for the most part I really like it.”
Goldin is a member of
the class of 2013.