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Rutgers shuts down Davidson Hall

The University will be shutting down Davison Hall after difficulty maintaining the building and years of student complaints.  – Photo by Google Maps

A 55-year-old residence hall will no longer house any students at Rutgers. Davidson Hall, a small building on Busch campus, was formally shut down by University Facilities and Capital Planning over the summer.

The steel building was shut down after becoming increasingly difficult to maintain in the face of new residence halls being opened, said Antonio Calcado, vice president for University Facilities.

“We’ve been having numerous issues keeping the temperature comfortable and even hot water,” he said. “There’s not much more we can do by way of repairs for it — we did everything we could. It’s a property whose time had come.”

Davidson’s steel construction and relatively low level of insulation made it difficult to combat its lack of heating and air conditioning. A new boiler was installed to help provide more heat in the winter, but the cold air wicked away the heat as quickly as the boiler produced it.

It became easier to shut down Davidson after The Yard at College Ave opened, he said. The new apartments provided an additional 400 beds, limiting the disruption shutting down a residence hall might cause.

Student complaints factored into the decision to close the building as well, he said.

The land that Davidson Hall is currently located on will be redeveloped, Calcado said. The residence hall itself inefficiently uses the space by providing too few beds per acre.

“It’s 7 acres of land and it’s very disproportionate,” he said. “I don’t know if we’ll do residential yet there, but it’s a good piece of property and most likely it’ll be residential.”

The Yard at College Ave was opened as an apartment complex for upperclassmen. Calcado said this relieves the pressure on other facilities, which can now house underclassmen who may have otherwise lived in Davidson.

The new complex was opened as part of a redevelopment initiative connected to the University Master Plan.

“It’s bigger than just the Master Plan (though),” Calcado said. “What we’re looking at is how do we best enhance the student experience? How do we move less people on our buses, how do we deliver education with a twist for the 21st century?”

Components to reducing congestion on buses includes adding more buses on existing routes, aligning student housing with where their classes are and rolling out synchronous classrooms, he said.

Synchronous classrooms are an initiative touted by University President Robert L. Barchi as a way of reducing congestion by allowing students to attend class without having to travel across campuses, according to a previous article by The Daily Targum.

The classrooms will use state-of-the-art technology to transmit video from the professor’s lecture hall to the remote-learning lecture hall.

“So you may be taking a course in the Wright-Rieman Chemistry Building on the Busch Campus and you can be at the Cook Campus and it would be no problem,” Calcado said.

Using initiatives like this one may reduce bus rides by up to 20,000 trips per week, or about 8 percent of all trips over the fall semester, he said.

Other methods to reduce the number of bus rides include housing students closer to their classrooms, aligning classes that students may be taking to reduce travel and moving instructors instead of students, he said.

In future years, the Rutgers schedule of classes may also be changed to try and reduce travel, he said.

“What that would do is alleviate not having everybody scramble for that one bus,” he said. “It should spread it out a bit more, so it should alleviate pressure on those buses.”

Nikhilesh De is a School of Engineering senior. He is the news editor of The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @nikhileshde for more.

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