Rutgers University in New Jersey renovates River Dorms

The State University of New Jersey, known as Rutgers University, is undertaking renovation of its River Dorms, which constitutes Campbell, Frelinghuysen and Hardenbergh, on the College Avenue Campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

The trio of residential halls known as the River Dorms were built in 1956 in the then-popular International Style of architecture. Located between George Street and the Raritan River, the buildings were raised above street level with open air underneath to preserve sight lines between the street and the river. But the open space was largely unused and the interior of the buildings did not have any significant space for study, lounging, or student programming. This has necessitated the current renovation project.

In 2008, the first phase of a multi-million dollar renovation of all three buildings was completed. The street-level space beneath Frelinghuysen Hall was wrapped in energy-efficient glass walls, creating approximately 6,800 square feet of new area for student activities ranging from private study and group meetings to recreation.

Rutgers University Housing and Residence Life worked with New Jersey-based Saphire + Albarran Architecture to design a space that would promote student interaction.

Each renovated space has its own signature colour scheme and floor-to-ceiling windows, which help in retaining the view of the river. On the street side of the building, the windows are angled outward, while on the Raritan side, the windows are angled inward. This resulted in a ‘zigzag’ pattern, promoting viewing into and out of the space by reducing glare. According to Joseph Saphire, principal architect, the key design aims to maintain the visual connection between George Street and the river.

The new space also features wireless internet access, additional laundry facilities, and a new waste disposal and recycling area. A similar renovation at Campbell Hall will be completed.

The $1.65 million Frelinghuysen renovation recently won an Outstanding Designs Award from American School & University Magazine. The renovation of Hardenbergh is scheduled for completion by late 2011.

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