New residential college at Vanderbilt to expand living-learning opportunities

Vanderbilt Barnard, Vanderbilt University’s newest residential college, is scheduled to open in the summer of 2018.

Vanderbilt University will take the next step in extending students’ living experience beyond the classroom and enhancing student engagement and community on campus when it begins construction in mid-May on the new Vanderbilt Barnard residential college.

“Residential colleges provide an authentic living/learning environment where Vanderbilt’s core beliefs are manifest. They support our mission of preparing students to be successful, ethical and visionary leaders,” said Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos, who shared plans for the project during his annual Spring Faculty Assembly address March 31. “Vanderbilt’s reputation, the quality and diversity of its student body, and the excellence of its faculty and teaching all continue to rise. [rquote]The new Vanderbilt Barnard College will further enrich this dynamic environment and support our ability to recruit, retain and educate the most outstanding undergraduates in the world.”[/rquote]

The new residential college, which was approved by the Board of Trust in February, will be located on the site of the current Vanderbilt and Barnard halls and will provide housing for 340 sophomores, juniors and seniors. It will include apartments for a faculty member and a residential area coordinator, a large dining space, a new kitchen and additional space for academic and programming needs.

“The design of Vanderbilt Barnard is focused on advancing the Academic Strategic Plan’s goals of enriching the undergraduate residential experience and educational opportunities,” said Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan Wente. “The new residential college will create new common spaces for students to learn from each other and from faculty members in ways that complement traditional classroom endeavors. This is an important part of our mission to educate the whole person in preparation for life-long learning.”

A rendering of the new Vanderbilt Barnard residential college.

The $115.5 million project is expected to open for occupancy beginning in the summer of 2018. Students will be able to apply for housing for the fall of 2018 during the housing selection process in the spring of 2018. Funding for the project will come largely from university reserves and philanthropy.

University officials met with groups of students to receive input on their experiences in Warren and Moore Colleges as well as other campus living-learning experiences. Their perspectives were incorporated into the design and programming features of Vanderbilt Barnard College.

Particular attention is being given to the needs of student arts organizations. Floor plans include two dance studio practice spaces in the basement and a small publicly accessible art gallery on the first floor that can host student or class projects.

Demolition of the existing 240-bed Vanderbilt and Barnard halls will begin following Commencement May 13.

In planning for the next phase of the college halls program, the university considered but rejected the notion of renovating the existing Vanderbilt and Barnard halls because of the expense and difficulty of bringing the 65-year-old buildings up to modern standards.

“It would have been extremely difficult from a design perspective, and highly inefficient economically, to attempt to transform the existing Vanderbilt and Barnard halls into an undergraduate residential college of the standard we have set for Vanderbilt University through The Ingram Commons and Warren and Moore,” Vice Chancellor for Administration Eric Kopstain said.

The principles that guided the planning process and are manifest in the new residential college are:

  • Create a distinctive and inclusive residential environment;
  • Balance student preference for privacy and active engagement;
  • Incorporate dining as an expression of community;
  • Design colleges whose architectural style is timeless and enduring.

The Vanderbilt Barnard project is the latest in Vanderbilt’s initiative to transform students’ living-learning experience that began in 2008 with the introduction of The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons, which offers a world-class residential education environment for first-year students. The Ingram Commons’ success led in 2014 to the opening of Warren and Moore Colleges for sophomores, juniors and seniors on the former site of the six-building Kissam complex near the West End and 21st Avenue intersection.