Quick Facts about the Hillside Apartments
• Two buildings, featuring 11 units each
• Five students in each apartment
• Laundry room in each complex
• Students not required to be on meal plan
• Architects: QPK Design (also designed Northwoods Village)
• Construction management: MLB Construction Services
• The three-part housing project (which includes three new Northwoods Village buildings, the two Hillside apartments and the seven as-yet constructed Scribner replacement buildings) cost $42.5 million.
• Lead funding for the project: a $12 million gift by Donald Sussman, a trustee who chairs the College’s investment committee and is the father of Emily Sussman, a 2004 Skidmore graduate. An anonymous donor gave an additional $5.5 million for the project, and the College issued bonds to cover the rest of the cost.
• Timeline: construction began in winter 2011 with the Northwoods Village addition. Anticipated completion of the Scribner replacement is late 2013.
New housing on the hill
Skidmore’s new student apartments, opening this fall, are currently called the Hillside housing complex. Snugged up along an incline just below the campus perimeter road, the new housing is built on land adjacent to the College’s Scribner Village apartments, which are in the process of being replaced.
The fully furnished new units – 22 in all – will house approximately 110 students (primarily juniors) this year. There are 11 new apartments in each of two buildings. Most of the apartments were built one on top of the other, with access to the upper level from the loop road and lower-level access provided by the Scribner Village roadway. Twenty two-story apartments feature common living space (kitchen and living room) and one bedroom on the lower level; four additional bedrooms are on the upper level. Each apartment building also has a one-floor apartment that is ADA compliant.
In an interview this summer with local newspaper The Saratogian, Dean of Student Affairs Rochelle Calhoun called the new housing “an exciting project. We believe that when this is done it will be some of the most highly desired college housing.”
Skidmore’s record of offering top-notch housing was firmly established with the construction of Northwoods Village apartments, which opened in 2006. The three- and four-student apartments typically house juniors and seniors and offer all the amenities of apartment-style living, including limited access during college vacations. They remain the most popular housing on campus.
Calhoun sees the housing continuum as one of possibilities for individual growth and co-curricular exploration. When students first arrive at Skidmore, they have access to traditional residence halls, with double or triple rooms. “We want to move to a situation where we can offer a sophomore a single room, which is possible with these new suites,” Calhoun explained. The new units offer a community atmosphere, yet students have the privacy of a single room, she said. Apartment living on campus is an option remaining for older students.
She believes that the new housing will strengthen co-curricular opportunities for sophomores. When the entire Scribner replacement project is completed, the sophomore class will be the priority residents with a goal of building solidarity and identity among class members. Projects to advance this goal include locating sophomore members of Honors Forum together in the new housing. Other initiatives include offering second-year students a short non-credit course titled “A Brand Called Me,” to build confidence and foster career exploration; and monthly programs that will address such topics as collaborative research, study abroad, and internships.
Catherine Golden, professor of English and Honors Forum director, is excited about offering Honors Forum students this new residential option. “Honors Forum is the only organization on campus that requires its members to complete a citizenship project,” said Golden. “This new housing makes visible what Honors Forum values.”
Golden admits that there has been a tendency for some HF students to delay the citizenship project. She adds, “We hope that sophomore housing for Honors Forum members will foreground the importance of helping local and/or global communities since students living in Honors housing will complete their projects during the sophomore year.” Moreover, Golden believes that HF members who live together have a better chance of completing this requirement. “Students can collaborate on projects and mentor each other as they complete the citizenship goal,” she said. “Some of the most successful and exciting citizenship projects have been completed by students working together.”
This year there is a pilot project under way in Weicking Hall, where a small number of sophomore Honors Forum members and an RA who is also an HF member are residing.
As the Hillside apartment residents settle in this fall, they will see progress taking shape outside their windows. Foundation work is currently under way for the Scribner replacement buildings. The seven buildings will each feature between eight and nine apartment units for an anticipated total of 238 beds. The apartments are expected to open in late 2013. When they do, Skidmore will house on campus approximately 90 percent of its student population, which currently totals approximately 2,400.
(All photos: Revette Photography)