Vanderbilt University is developing plans for a potential new university residence to serve as home to future chancellors and as a gathering space for the university community. The plans are part of Vanderbilt’s FutureVU land use framework and would represent a return to the historical tradition of Vanderbilt’s chancellors living on campus.
“Bringing the university residence back to Vanderbilt’s campus would support the priorities of FutureVU and the Academic Strategic Plan, truly bringing home our commitment to residential education,” said Interim Chancellor and Provost Susan R. Wente, who is leading the project with the Board of Trust. “I’m excited about the potential for a new on-campus university residence to serve as both a home for our future chancellors and a place where everyone in the Vanderbilt community can feel welcome. Such a new addition to campus would perfectly align with our academic strategy and further the success of our living-learning communities, where students, faculty and university leaders live, learn and collaborate together.”
The plans will explore the construction of a new university residence on university-owned land on 18th Avenue South, adjacent to the Sony Building and The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons and a short walk from the new Faculty Commons, which will be located on 19th Avenue South. The university plans to sell the current residence, formally known as Braeburn, and use the funds to construct a new university residence. Braeburn has not been used as a residence since 2007. The Board of Trust approved the sale of Braeburn during its February meeting.
The university launched its Academic Strategic Plan in 2013, and among the plan’s four pillars was continuing the push forward with the Residential College model, bringing students and residential faculty together in on-campus living spaces. FutureVU, Vanderbilt’s land-use plan developed in 2015, further supports the residential education model.
“We have been examining the future of Braeburn as part of FutureVU for some time,” said Vice Chancellor for Administration Eric Kopstain. “With an upcoming chancellor transition, the full commitment to the Residential College model and the recognition that Braeburn no longer meets our campus’ needs, now was a natural time to move forward with exploring the possibility of an on-campus university residence.”
During the planning phase, the university will take measures to ensure that such a new building achieves significant new efficiencies in utility and energy services relative to Braeburn. The push for a more energy-efficient university residence also reflects Vanderbilt’s commitment to sustainability.
“FutureVU Sustainability has been a defining part of our campus planning in the past five years, and the university residence fits naturally within those plans,” Kopstain said. “Creating a modern and sustainable gathering space—and a place for our future chancellors to call home—builds on the FutureVU philosophy of developing a campus that is forward-looking in its design, enhances the university’s mission, and extends a sense of community into our surrounding neighborhoods. The new university residence represents a long view of Vanderbilt’s goals and values.”
Vanderbilt’s chancellors traditionally lived on campus until the university acquired Braeburn in 1964. Chancellor Alexander Heard, the first Vanderbilt chancellor to live off-campus, moved to Braeburn with his family shortly after the university purchased the property. In the 56 years that the university has owned the home, Braeburn has operated as a residence for approximately half of that time. Since 2007, the property has been primarily used as an event space.
For more information about Vanderbilt’s framework for campus development, visit the FutureVU website.