East Campus

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East Campus
Eastcampus.jpeg
Built 1981
Renovated 1991
Townhouses in 2003
Floors 18-20 in 2004
Population 723
University Residence Halls
548 West 113th Street600 West 113th StreetBroadwayCarmanEast Campus47 ClaremontFurnaldHarmonyHartleyHoganJohn JayMcBainRiverRugglesSchapiroWallachWattWienWoodbridge

East Campus (in common parlance, EC, but technically named Henry Hudson Hall) is a large complex abutting Morningside Drive between 118th Street and Faculty House, although it only opens onto campus, facing the opposite direction. Much of the structure consists of Columbia's largest residence hall - and one of its most desirable. The rest is occupied by university offices and meeting spaces.

A $28.7 million dollar facility, it was designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates architects and built from 1979 - 1982. It was completely renovated in 1991, and has received additional renovations in 1997, 2002, and 2004.

Although consisting of a single structure, the building is technically made up of 10 "townhouses" (8 of which are individually named: Carleton House; Wien House; McGill House; Ritter House; Buttenwieser House; Moses House; Kresge House; and Watson House), and a high-rise, properly known as "Hudson Hall" after SEAS alumnus Percy K. Hudson, but nobody uses their proper names. It probably doesn't help that EC is the dorm the furthest from the Hudson River.

EC is a large structure with multiple facilities, some containing their own exterior entrances, others hidden within the residence hall's security screen. The security-controlled entrance to the dormitory building, the Heyman Center, and the Faculty in Residence apartment is located on Ancel Plaza. Separate entrances to the Center for Career Education and the Facilities Management office are located in the bowels of the EC complex, next to Wien Hall and across from Faculty House.

Contents

History

Early plans

Early, twin tower design for EC

An earlier plan for East Campus (1965), by Harrison and Abramovitz architects, included twin concrete slab towers.[1] Along with the rest of the ambitious expansion plans of University President Grayson L. Kirk, it was scrapped in the wake of the 1968 protests against, among other things, a university gym proposed for nearby Morningside Park. When expansion finally did reach East Campus, by the late 1970s, the university was seeking a more humanist design, one which would both harmonize better with the surrounding campus and reflect, to some degree, the residential college quads of Oxford and Yale.

Opening and response

East Campus received its first residents in January of 1981. These were the former occupants of Hartley and Livingston Halls, which had begun to be gutted for conversion from individual rooms to suite layouts a month earlier, at the close of the Fall Semester, 1980. This compulsory relocation over the Winter vacation was marked by the widespread theft, vandalism and careless destruction of students' possessions by the "Seven Santini Brothers," the moving firm hired by Columbia to shovel everyone's belongings into the new building. When East Campus opened, students appreciated its expansive suite space, commanding views, and spacious townhouses, which were a refreshing contrast to the cramped conditions prevailing in much of the rest of the University's housing.

Not all, however, was unalloyed bliss.[2] The building had fallen far behind schedule and was therefore still under construction, with many workmen showing up every morning at 7:30AM, cheerfully wielding hammers, drills, and, most entertainingly of all, nail guns, the concussive staccato of which provided a daily surefire wake-up call for several weeks. Further contributing to the festive ambiance was the lack of televisions in the TV lounges and washers and dryers in the Laundry Room, carpeting that had been apparently liberally marinated in Benzene, empty sockets in the bathrooms where the electrical outlets were intended to be, HVAC consoles that were unalterably tuned to Full Depths of Hell settings combined with windows that were blocked to open no further than 2 inches, and a fiendishly inventive sewer system that ensured that the flushing of any single toilet anywhere in the structure instantaneously supplied 211 degrees F water to every shower head in the building. And never to be overlooked were the rats who, having been routed from their erstwhile homes on the construction site, adamantly declined to be displaced by the new arrivals, instead making delightfully impromptu, random appearances throughout.

Many of the outer townhouses were donated and built by famous Columbia University benefactors. The most notable of these is Thomas J. Watson, Jr. who donated the popular Watson House. Donor George Delacorte, for whom the building's central courtyard is formally named, said of his former room at the university "we had two nails on the wall for a closet...now I've paid for a dormitory where boys loll around in marble bathtubs." The bathrooms are not, however, actually marble, but imitate that material.[3]

East Campus' original red and white tile cladding was praised as innovative by architectural critics. The American Institute of Architects' Guide to New York City called it "elegant and handsome".

Despite such positive views, reception to the building was mixed overall. New York Times architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable wrote of East Campus:

"Consider a building that has to be vandal-proof, constructed of maintenance-free materials with every surface resistant to neglect and abuse, where violation of design and function must be an anticipated fact, along with defacement and petty thievery -- a place where surveillance is a necessity and population is transient. A description of a minimum security prison? Not at all. This is a dormitory for Columbia University... it is easy to see how an austerely simple aesthetic can be brought down to this dispiriting level..."[4]

Within 3 years of students moving in, the building was still a mess, leading the Spectator to run a major piece subtitled "Dream Dorm in Decay" investigating the buildings chronic problems, with the architect blaming the contractor for shoddy work, and the contractor blaming students for vandalizing the building.[5]

Early Violence

Due to its proximity to Morningside Park, EC had, early on, acquired a reputation for being within range of one of the city's most dangerous high crime areas. Legends told of bullets whizzing past residents' heads while they were in their rooms.[6] As it were, the threat turned out to be closer to home: on October 10, 1985, a SEAS student, Sarah M. Thomas, was stabbed in her East Campus suite by an intruder, a man who had been signed in as a guest by another resident. It was one of a number of violent crimes in the Columbia dormitories during the 1980s..[7]

Reconstruction

An inspection in 1987 revealed that the tiled exterior which had earned the building accolades had begun to peel off its facade and a large chunk collapsed into its courtyard in February 1988. This prompted the university to order its recladding, a $15 million project handled by the architects Gruzon Sampton Steinglass, in the campus' traditional red brick and limestone. In the course of the scandal, Columbia sued both Gwathmey Siegel and the engineering firm that had worked on the project.[8]

Later history

In 2006, a homophobic message written on a dry-erase board in East Campus was denounced as a hate crime, the sixth one alleged that year, and prompted the creation of the contrversial student group SHOCC.

The 6th floor of the building contains the East Campus Hotel, which is operated by Conference Housing, a subunit of Housing Services. While the entire floor used to be used only for guests (usually alumni or speakers coming to campus), almost all of the rooms have been converted into double-occupancy rooms with a private bath that are selectable in the annual Housing Lottery. As of 2010, the west side of the hall is now occupied by almost entirely returning students whereas the east is occupied by mostly transfers. Typically, sophomores pick into these spacious rooms, mostly because juniors and seniors find the lack of a suite and kitchen undesirable.

Lobby Redesign

In the summer of 2012, work began on renovations to EC's front lobby, and supposedly the eventual construction of entrance turnstiles to alleviate traffic concerns (read: get drunk people in and out faster). In typical Columbia fashion, work extended well into the Fall 2012 semester. The lobby, completed before December, resembles an ocean-side hotel. The turnstiles finally became active in early 2013, but in any given week at least one of them is broken at a time.

Famous residents

East Campus was home to US presidential adviser and television news personality George Stephanopoulos, and actors Matthew Fox, Julia Stiles and Rider Strong, all of whom lived in the Watson House townhouse. Controversial political cartoonist Ted Rall also lived in East Campus, but was kicked out after targeting pedestrians below his window with water balloons.[9]

Facilities

East Campus has four types of suites: townhouses, high-rise 5-person suites, high-rise 6-person suites, and 2-person flats.

The 5-person suites were formally exclusion suites but are now available during the group (in-person) selection phase of Housing.

Every suite has a kitchen and bathroom.

Suites

  • 7 high-rise 5-person suites with 5 singles
  • 7 high-rise 6-person suites with 6 singles
  • 56 high-rise 5-person 'exclusion' suites with 3 singles and 1 double
  • 35 high-rise 2-person apartments
  • 10 townhouse 4-person suites with 4 singles.
Last one was taken by 30/1004 in 2003, 30/1327 in 2004, 30/785 in 2005, 30/398 in 2006.
  • 12 townhouse 6-person suites with 4 singles and 1 double.
Last one was taken by 30/2703 in 2003, 30/2743 in 2004, 20/600 in 2005, 30/2753 in 2006.
H1003, H1004, H603 and H803 are Greek.
H104, H203, H304, H403, H504, H704, H903, H904 are in the lottery
  • 28 townhouse 6-person suites with 6 singles
Last one was taken by ? in 2003, 30/1830 in 2004, 30/2913 in 2005, 30/1836 in 2006.

Advantages

  • Large suite lounges.
  • Suite bathrooms.
  • Recently-built.
  • Air conditioning.
  • Clean. Mostly. Sometimes.
  • Strong community, which even includes a faculty family in residence which will invite residents up for food.
  • Upper floors were recently renovated and have new flooring.
  • Dishwashers in 5- and 6-person suites.
  • You can host huge parties without getting into [actual] trouble.
  • The view from the top floor is the best you can get without being exorbantly rich.
  • Very spacious living rooms.

Disadvantages

  • Frequently malfunctioning highrise elevators (this is not a problem if you live in one of the townhouses).
  • Ever walk barefoot on the stairs inside a highrise suite? Concrete stairs suck.
  • Glacial temperatures from the A/C during the summer... even if it's off!
  • The heaters get hot enough to shatter, or at least severly crack, a window.
  • Freshman and their lack of ability to hold their liquor.

Images

The high-rise suite is 1410, and the townhouse is 1003.

Floor plans

Townhouses

Lower Townhouses

Middle Townhouses

Upper Townhouses

EC High Rise

Tunnel/roof connections

Wien

Take elevator to B3, but access is by key only and you won't get the key. Then there's the issue of the camera which is monitored at the front desk.

Roof

EC's roof is perhaps the best view on campus. Harlem? Check. Midtown? Check. Yankee Stadium? Check. Jersey? True connoisseurs know to climb the stairs and then the ladder to get to the very top of the utility room on the middle of the roof. Don't fall off. Take the elevator to 20. If you take the south staircase, look out for the camera (wear a hoodie?) and hope for the door to be propped open. If it's closed, just be aware that setting off a fire alarm is a crime, and FDNY will be mad at you, because they will come. If you take the north staircase, you'll find another fire door, with an interesting keypad contraption. Enter the appropriate code, and the door will open without setting off the fire alarm. It will, however, alert security that the door has been opened. Security's response time is unimpressive, but this method does not lend itself to a nice leisurely visit. If the door's propped, just cover your face on the way up and you should be fine. If it isn't, then be brief. Consider the security response time from Low Library to EC 20, and budget your time accordingly.

References

  1. Unbuilt: Original East Campus Proposal at Morningside Heights neighborhood website
  2. "Returning students greeted by dormitory crisis - 'Luxury' rooms lack heat, water and electricity", Columbia Daily Spectator, Volume CV, 20 January 1981
  3. "Columbia Dedicates New Suites and Townhouses for Students" in the New York Times, June 4, 1981
  4. (Architecture, Anyone? p.236)
  5. http://spectatorarchive.library.columbia.edu/cgi-bin/columbia?a=d&d=cs19831115-01.2.2
  6. http://nymag.com/news/features/64944/index1.html
  7. "Intruder Stabs Student in Columbia Dormitory" by Keith Schneider in the New York Times, October 11, 1985
  8. "Columbia Dormitory, A New Facade," in the New York Times, June 23, 1991
  9. Fatal Defenstration: Men Who Love Gravity Too Much on Ted Rall's website

Map

Building address

70 Morningside Dr.
New York, NY 10027

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