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Harmony Hall is an undergraduate dormitory located at 544 W. 110th Street. It holds the distinction of being the undergraduate dormitory furthest from campus (apart from some Barnard-specific dorms). Until 2009, Harmony was a Law School and GSAS-only dormitory, offering dirt cheap corridor living to budget conscious students as an alternative to the more expensive University Apartment Housing. While Housing Services has compared the building's layout to River Hall, the two buildings differ in one very important respect- River was the recipient of a $10 million gut renovation in 2000 making it one of the most modern and desirable dormitories at the school. Harmony, by contrast, received merely a fresh coat of paint when it is converted to undergraduate housing.
The building was originally built in 1928 as a clubhouse for The Explorers Club. However, the Great Depression scuttled the club's plans to finance their building through steady rental income from subletting the upper 5 stories of bedrooms in the building, and they left in 1932. The building eventually came into the possession of Columbia. One can still see the heritage of the building in the allegorical portraits representing the continents on its façade.
Harmony Hunter talked about it.
In Popular Culture
In 2019, Columbia darling Vampire Weekend released a lead single "Harmony Hall" from their studio album "Father of the Bride". A collective orgasm ensued. During an Atlantic Interview shortly after the release, frontman Ezra Kroening confirmed that the song's title was not a reference to the Columbia dormitory, instead leaving some to speculate that it was a synonym for an 'echo chamber'. That it wasn't a reference to the dorm makes sense given that Vampire Weekend had graduated in 2006, and Harmony was only converted to undergraduate housing in 2010. This hasn't stopped Harmony residents from claiming some semblance of relevancy to anyone who doesn't know any better.
76 singles and 7 doubles of varying size are located corridor-style on 8 floors in the building. There are separate men’s and women’s bathrooms on most floors and co-ed bathrooms on floors 5 and 6. Each floor has a kitchen with a full-sized refrigerator, sink, and stove, and a common area with a flat-screen television attached to the kitchen.There is a laundry room in the basement, and 2 printing stations in the main lobby. There is bicycle storage in the basement.
A significant number of the singles are under 100 sq. ft and go as low as 76 sq ft. This makes it likely that Harmony Hall will be a dormitory of last resort for sophomores desperate for singles.
Savvy students will observe that Harmony Hall is 9 stories tall, taller than the buildings immediately adjacent to, and behind it, meaning opportunities for well lit rooms in the building do exist.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- A few large singles (some up to 150 sq. ft.).
- The best people you'll ever meet.
- High floors have a fair amount of light.
- Fresh coat of paint on walls.
- Flat screen TVs in lounges.
- Pre-war building façade.
- Superintendent is the best. Reported problems are fixed relatively quickly.
- Many doors to explore in the basement, including the passage into the Synagogue
- Closest dorm to Koronet's, Rite Aide, Westside Market, and a bunch of other stores, retail
- Far from campus. The schlep to Pupin and Mudd is more than half a mile and to EC, roughly 7/10 a mile. If you're a person who runs late, this might not be the best choice for you (you always have the option of paying $2.75 to take the subway). Some previous residents wondered if this housing option was worth the walk to and from campus. Expect a long walk for anything social - as most dorms are several blocks away.
- There is no air conditioning, so expect a fair amount of street noise from 110th Street and Broadway intersection when opening windows.
- Many inhumane tiny singles, some as small as 76 sq. ft. (about 30% smaller than most John Jay singles).
- Has a reputation for housing some of the most antisocial people at Columbia.
- Lounge areas are very small.
- Kitchen trashcans stink up the kitchen whenever lid is opened.
- Creepy murder-movie basement
- Only one elevator. It's old-style and slow, so some would take the stairs to the eighth floor rooms because of impatience. Others, would just wait, since it takes longer to hike up Machu Picchu than for the awfully slow elevator to descend.
- Cockroach, rat, and other vermin problems (including bed bugs and sink-inhabiting water bugs) have been reported by previous residents, especially on lower floors and basement areas...most likely in the past. Recently, however, there have not been many sightings of these vermin (at most, there may be one or two stray cockroach appearances during the school year).
- As a pre-war building, expect all the problems you would with a non-renovated pre-war building: hot water running out periodically (doesn't happen, really), heating on too high (tricks you into believing your body is experiencing the symptoms of a menopausal woman with heat flashes), lack of full soundproofing (can hear your neighbors getting it on, no full privacy for your kitchen conversations, etc.)
- Only one printer, that's extremely slow and frequently breaks down/jams. Just un-jam it yourself...it's simple to do and takes less time than waiting for maintenance. Printer takes a while to turn on, so if you're in a rush to a morning class, it's best to stop by Lerner to print, rather than wait 5 minutes for warming up.
- Unfortunately, that passage to the synagogue has no doorknob/handle on the Harmony side
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