Yvonne Chen, a senior majoring in computer science, loves her room in the Honors College Building.
It’s like living in a hotel. It has that new-car feel. It has spacious rooms with tall windows, lounges in the hallways and laundry rooms on each floor. It even has temperature controls in all the rooms, where residents can bask in the air-conditioned cool of a hot summer day.
It’s the Warren Street Village, the new addition to campus that includes a home for the Albert Dorman Honors College – with dormitory rooms, administrative offices, studio classrooms and lounges; a row of four, low-rise houses for fraternities and sororities; as well as one residential house for students.
Warren Street Village adds 600 beds to NJIT’s residential housing. That increase brings the total student housing to more than 2,200 beds, about a 35 percent increase. Recently, more and more students have expressed a desire to live on campus; the Village was built to accommodate that need. And in coming months the Honors College building will also be outfitted with a restaurant, a pizzeria, a large Wawa-like deli and a fitness center. Students who reside in the building will have all they need at the touch of an elevator button. NJIT will christen the Village with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 18.
Dorm Life in the Honors Building
But meanwhile, students who’ve been living there since the start of the semester are declaring it a smashing success.
“It feels like I’m living in a nice hotel,” says Yvonne Chen, a senior who lives in a single on the sixth floor of the Honors College building. “I love how spacious my room is and the great view of the athletic field. I can stand at my window and watch the soccer games.”
Chen, a computer science major, lived in Singapore before coming to America to attend NJIT. She spent the last three years living in NJIT dorms, but her new digs are by far her favorite.
“I have a washer and dryer on my floor and a temperature control in my room that lets me to control the temperature. It’s also a short walk to my classes. I was away for the summer and when I returned to campus I was amazed that the building was completed. NJIT expedited the construction of the building so that students could be in by early September. That made me very happy.”
Thomas Anderson (left), a senior majoring in applied math, lives one floor down from Chen, on the fifth floor. He describes his dorm room as “fantastic,” and a “step up” from any of his previous dorm rooms. He cited the laundry rooms on each floor and the storage closets in the halls where residents can store their belongings and safely lock up their bicycles. He is looking forward to the opening of the restaurants and deli, but perhaps the biggest improvement, in his view, is that the Honors Building will foster an enhanced sense of community within the college.
“The honors residential students will now be in the same building as the commuters, who typically make heavy use of the Honors College's student lounge,” says Anderson. “Hopefully the residents and commuters will interact more, and more friendships and connections will be made.”
Isaac Daudelin, a junior majoring in biology who also lives on the fifth floor, agrees with Anderson’s assessment. The lounges on each floor of the building will lure residents out of their rooms and into social situations such as group study, watching films or playing games.
“On my floor one of the guys already brought a game cabinet filled with board games and put it in the corner lounge for the members of the floor to use,” says Daudelin.
He also belongs to an Interdisciplinary Design Studio (IDS) research team, and the teams have their own studio classrooms on the second floor of the new building.
“I’ve just seen the IDS studio rooms for the first time and they look very high tech,” says Daudelin. “My team will have access to one of the studio rooms for classes, team meetings and research. It will definitely be an improvement from our former lab space in Tiernan, and it will be nice to have it in the same building as the dorms.”
Living Large on Greek Row
The new Greek houses are also getting rave reviews. Unlike the honors building, the houses are low rise – just three stories high, and are enveloped by green lawns and young trees. That lends them a quaint feel. And the interior floors are fresh, spacious and comfortable.
Edward Gilson (right), a member of Theta Chi, lives on the second building on the row. He gave a recent visitor a tour of the building, pointing out the foosball table and the immense TV in the first-floor lounge. He also pointed out the walk-in kitchen, replete with a restaurant stove, a stainless-steel refrigerator; a wide ice-maker and a stout microwave.
Gilson, a sophomore majoring in Information Technology, likes the convenience of his room. It’s a short walk to the parking deck, where he parks his car and a two-minute walk to his classes. His room is also secure; he has to swipe his ID and enter a PIN number to get in. Because of the safety of his room and his building, he feels at ease enough to leave his room door open; he and his fraternity brothers are free to flit in an out of each other’s rooms.
“Everything is so new and fresh here,” says Gilson. It’s really nice and safe and convenient. My fraternity kept its house on MLK Blvd. and that building is an old firehouse. So we now have housing on campus and off, which is great for us.”
Wesley Gittens, a member of Iota Phi Theta, lives on the other side of the same duplex house as Gilson. Iota never before had a house of its own. So the Iota members are thrilled to have a floor in the new building. It allows for the brothers to live and study and socialize together. And it gives the fraternity a sense of place.
“Students associate a fraternity with its house and now that we have our own space we are way better off,” says Gittens, a senior who majors in Industrial Engineering. “Having our own space will help us generate interest and grow,” he says. “And we love our rooms – they are brand new and fresh -- just beautiful.”