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reed magazine logoAutumn 2008

In the Neighborhood

dorm map

The four new north-campus residence halls are a brisk walk across the pedestrian bridge to Gray Campus Center

The bedrooms, mainly singles and some doubles, have large closets, built-in shelves, and, in some cases, views of the West Hills. Every floor features a tub room where students can enjoy a soak in a bath. If that sounds luxurious—especially to alumni who endured the spartan accommodations of yesteryear—it’s worth pointing out that these dorms are supposed to be a refuge from the intensity of academic life at Reed, a place where you can relax and feel at home. In that spirit, some common spaces include comfy couches, fireplaces, and even—gasp!—TVs. (Already the residents are debating whether to tune in to Gray’s Anatomy or The Office on Thursday nights.) Aspen’s first floor hosts an Italian-themed café that offers espresso, panini, and gelato, the last locally produced by Jessica Holliday ’94 and her sister Sarah, co-owners of Portland-based Staccato Gelato. In the first weeks of September, before it had regular hours, Caffè Paradiso became a destination for students, faculty, and staff members from across campus.

“The Grove has made the campus smaller,” says Michael Leidecker, interim associate dean of student services. “This is an academically rigorous place,” he explains. “We want students to feel connected to each other and to the places on campus—the student union, the classrooms in Eliot, the health center—that make up student life. And we want those places and the people in them to feel connected to the residences and the students who live in them.”

As one of five language houses, the Spanish House sponsors campuswide cultural events, including film festivals, meals, and concerts, to which students, faculty, and staff are invited. Its size—twice or more as big as the existing language houses—and location in a relatively tight space posed unique challenges for the designers. The project also sought to unify the language houses architecturally, using elements from the existing houses—gabled roofs and wood-shingle exteriors—in the Spanish House design and updating the existing houses—French, Russian, German, and Chinese—with new slate roofs and covered porches that blend in with the look of the new building.

Most noticeably, a courtyard was added, extending westward from the Chinese House. The plaza is divided into smaller spaces, with paved and grassy areas, amphitheatre-style stairs, picnic tables, and a stone wall that students can sit on. It can accommodate a crowd for Cinco De Mayo or Chinese New Year celebrations, as well as provide space for smaller, more informal gatherings.

“A shared living room,” says architect Osborne. “On your way home after a tough final exam, you might pass through here and see a friend and stop and chat a bit.”

Romel Hernandez is a freelance writer in Portland. He wrote “This New House” in the Spring 2007 issue of Reed magazine.

reed magazine logoAutumn 2008