reed magazine logospring2007
Dorm life, 2007

Above and on following pages: Keeping up tradition, students and house advisers serve up a casual Sunday afternoon tea in Anna Mann. Photos by Orin Bassoff ’04.

this new 'old' house

REED HAS COME A LONG WAY since the early days of  “day dodgers” in the 1930s and 1940s, when most students commuted to campus from their parents’ homes around Portland. Even through the building boom of the 1950s and 1960s that saw the cross-canyon and Foster, Scholz, and MacNaughton dorms rise, off-campus living remained a venerated part of the Reed way of life, even for lower-classmen. As recently as the 1990s, only half of Reed students were living on campus. Today, 65 percent do; at many peer liberal arts colleges, the figure is 90 percent.

Reed began contemplating the need for more student housing soon after opening Bragdon Hall and the Steele houses (now named Sullivan and Naito) in 1998. Not only did the new residences—built on a hill on the north end of campus—fill up right away, but demand continued to rise. By the early 2000s, approximately 100 students per year were being wait-listed for on-campus housing. Last year, the number topped 150.

Currently, the college guarantees housing only to freshmen, who are encouraged to live on campus. The college’s long-term goal is to increase the capacity and variety of residence halls so that students have the option of living on campus at least three of their four years at Reed.

“We want it to be enticing for students to come back each year,” says President Colin Diver. “We believe that having more students living on campus will not only support the academic program, but also enhance the culture of the place.”

Even before Diver’s arrival in 2002, a college committee had started exploring the desirability of increasing student housing, with an eye not only to meeting growing demand, but to fostering a tighter, more dynamic campus community.

That same year, Zimmer Gunsul Frasca, a prominent Portland architecture firm that had already been involved in numerous campus projects, including the remodel of Hauser Library, conducted a feasibility study. Campus focus groups followed. ZGF ultimately came up with plans—vetted by a faculty/student/staff committee, and approved by the board of trustees—for a $23 million residential complex on the northwest end of campus, where a neighborhood community garden had existed. A new house for students in the burgeoning Spanish program, at a projected cost of $3.5 million, was approved as well. ZGF has designed the north campus complex, as well as the new bridge leading to it. Hennebery Eddy, another Portland architecture firm, has designed the new language house.

The guiding philosophy for both projects is the same: to go smaller and more intimate, bucking a national campus trend for “big, bloated buildings,” according to Bob Frasca, a ZGF partner and senior designer of the project.

“There is a certain vocabulary that is Reed’s,” says Frasca, a noted figure in architecture circles who designed the Portland Waterfront and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital at Oregon Health & Science University. “There’s a certain character, scale, and quality that makes it Reed.”

After crossing the canyon, pedestrians will pass a café with outdoor seating, then enter the new sustainably landscaped quad.

Rendering of new dorm's courtyard