College unveils three-phase plan to transform 80% of residence, dining facilities over next 10 years

COURTESY IMAGE / William & Mary, Brailsford & Dunlavey and VMDO,

Editor’s Note: This is a developing story, as this information was not available to students and the community until April 21.

Over the next decade, the College of William and Mary will be renovating or replacing 80% of their residential and dining facilities. This extensive project—set to finish in 2032—plans to advance and improve the on-campus living experience, as well as aligns with the environmental and financial sustainability goals of Vision 2026.

“Consistent with Vision 2026’s goal of ‘Evolving to Excel,’ we will shift from planning to implementation this spring,” College President Katherine Rowe said. “We aim to ensure that university housing and dining facilities will enhance William and Mary’s academic mission for generations to come.”

The plan will be split into three phases, with each phase addressing different locations and buildings on campus. By the end of the project, 100% of beds will have AC, the average age of housing facilities will drop from 54 to 10 and the number of individual residential halls will drop from 70 to 55.

Brailsford & Dunlavey and VMDO

While the number of total beds will not change—it is set to stay constant at 5000— the College will look to scale up or down that number based on student demand and anticipated off-campus development. Currently, bed capacity is around 4700 as Richmond Hall is not available for students.

Despite the massive changes, the project will attempt to minimize any disruptions to student living.

“The primary questions are how can we replace the most beds in the least amount of time… so we are wanting to accelerate this as much as possible, targeting specifically the dorms and the facilities that were identified by the consultants as being most in need of attention,” Vice President of Student Affairs Ginger Ambler said. “At the same time, recognizing that as buildings go out of inventory and returned in that process, we still need to maintain housing to meet the demand and the projected anticipated need of students, and also to be mindful of our buildings that are not going to need major renovations… that we’re continuing to give them ongoing maintenance so that we don’t end up with a deferred maintenance problem at the end.”

Brailsford & Dunlavey and VMDO

Phase One

Phase One can be divided into six different projects, including renovating Old Dominion and Monroe Hall, adding new housing to complete the Lemon-Hardy site, demolishing Yates Hall to build West 1 Campus Housing, building new West Campus Dining, clearing the Campus Center site for new construction and demolishing Green and Gold Village and Commons Dining.

Costing approximately $234 million, aspects of Phase One are already underway, as Campus Center offices and organizations will move to the new Sadler Center expansion this summer, and the plans for the Old Dominion and Monroe Hall renovations have been initiated.

Brailsford & Dunlavey and VMDO
Brailsford & Dunlavey and VMDO

As for each project, the College hopes to incorporate student voices and priorities in their plans. For Old Dominion (set to finish fall 2025) and Monroe Hall (set to finish fall 2024), conversations with students indicated a need for better social and study spaces, more outdoor space for gatherings, an elevator and all-gender bathrooms.

“So, importantly for me, identifying student priorities based on conversations with residents about what’s important to them in modern facilities… and so you’ll see here some of the things that we heard from students as we talked to them about renovations for Old Dominion and Monroe,” Ambler said in reference to the following attached slides.

Brailsford & Dunlavey and VMDO

It could be argued that the most transforming aspect for Phase One may be the creation of West 1 Campus Housing and West Campus Dining. Students may find the term “west campus,” unfamiliar, as normally the campus is divided between “old campus” and “new campus.”  West campus is used to describe the area around Yates and Commons Dining, and West Campus 1 Housing will be sitting on the same site as Yates.

West Campus 1 will have 700 beds and be made up of three residential halls and a dining hall. The College will seek a public-private partnership for the new construction and demolition, which will reduce the impact on student room rates.

Brailsford & Dunlavey and VMDO

Phase Two

Phase Two hopes to revitalize the new campus entrance, considered the bridge between the College and Colonial Williamsburg. Costing approximately $350 million, Phase Two will be partnering with the William & Mary Real Estate Foundation.

There are six projects in Phase Two, including: redeveloping the Campus Center site for housing, dining, a campus bookstore and admissions; redeveloping the Randolph site for West 2 Campus Housing; vacating Ludwell Apartments; redeveloping the Richmond Hall site and new property development; upgrading systems at One Tribe Place; and demolishing the Botetourt Complex.

Brailsford & Dunlavey and VMDO

“We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how do we preserve green space? How do we really take advantage of the nature that’s already in that vicinity? But also thinking about, how do we create pathways and walkways that connect students to Swem, connect out at the campus promenade?”

“We spent a lot of time with the consultants thinking about how the campus center site could really become a new entryway for the campus,” Chief Operating Officer Amy Sebring said regarding the West Campus development. “… We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how do we preserve green space? How do we really take advantage of the nature that’s already in that vicinity? But also thinking about, how do we create pathways and walkways that connect students to Swem, connect out at the campus promenade?”

Brailsford & Dunlavey and VMDO

Phase Three

The final phase—Phase Three—is made up of four projects, though programming, designing and timing is less determined than the prior two phases. With the anticipated cost being from $100 million to $200 million and again working with a public-private partnership, Phase Three will develop West 3 Campus Housing, renovate residence halls in need of targeted replacements and upgrades—Barrett, Jefferson, Bryan and the Sorority Complex— renovate Graduate Complex apartments and demolish Dupont Hall.

Phase Three (and potentially Phase Two) will allow the college to increase or decrease the number of beds depending on student demand.

“There are actually places in the plan where we can scale up or down,” Sebring said. “…We have the ability to expand.”

“We’ve identified a number of sites for future growth, so that’s always in the plan,” Ambler added.

Brailsford & Dunlavey and VMDO

Greater Community

Some of the residential halls the College plans to “remove,” such as Brown, Ludwell and Richmond Hall, is due to the fact the College is currently leasing these facilities. For other smaller dorms that the College does own that it will remove, such as Hunt and Willis, the College found it would not be cost-effective to renovate them.

“We’re also looking at sustainability,” Ambler said. “So, it’s not as sustainable to have lots of little small facilities, but to be able to consolidate and use modern upgraded systems enhances our sustainability efforts as well.”

With some of the anticipated issues being dependent on student demand, Ambler said the remaining “wild card” in the College’s plan is the local real estate market.

“Some of the properties that have historically been student rentals are now today being filled by non-students who are hoping to be able to buy a house in the area,” Ambler said. “But you know, there’s so little supply right now for housing that we have people in short-term rental property that normally wouldn’t be.”

Students are no stranger to the issues of off-campus housing; during spring 2022 housing selection, over 600 upperclassmen were placed on a waitlist—though that number is now down to 19.

Off-campus housing has historically had its own set of problems, such as lack of availability in walking distance of the College and affordability issues. Current Midtown Apartments, which opened in summer 2021, was designed for and targeted to the College’s student population and added approximately 620 available bedrooms to the community, according to a leasing representative. Other issues include town and gown relations, and the three-year moratorium on four-person dwelling applications.

Despite these current challenges, the College anticipates an increase in off-campus development over the next decade.

“Our consultants are under the impression, with just some information they have, that development will continue off campus. So there will likely be more off-campus growth, whether that is small apartment complexes or larger ones… there is some anticipation of that.”

“Our consultants are under the impression, with just some information they have, that development will continue off campus,” Associate Vice President for Campus Living Maggie Evans said. “So there will likely be more off-campus growth, whether that is small apartment complexes or larger ones… there is some anticipation of that.”

Thursday, April 21, Ambler and Sebring presented this plan at a joint meeting during the Board of Visitors meeting to the administration, buildings and grounds committee, the committee on the student experience and the ad hoc committee on organizational sustainability and innovation. The board will consider a resolution Friday, April 22 supporting the plan.

“Residential living contributes to student success, as well as to an enhanced sense of community at William and Mary,” Ambler said. “Our residence halls provide students with daily opportunities to engage with diverse people from around the world. Together, they practice democratic ideals through self-governance, and they nurture friendships, many of which become lifelong. This facilities plan will ensure that we offer the best living-learning spaces possible for our students.”

All images were courtesy of William & Mary, Brailsford & Dunlavey and VMDO

 

11 COMMENTS

  1. Can housing and dining be improved at W&M yes, is this the best path forward, no. Why do students come to W&M. The ability to choose from a variety of dorms of different sizes, stately buildings like Hunt Hall, a campus that is modern on the inside but historic on the outside. Forget or ignore these features at your peril. Schools such as Wake Forest, Davidson, and Washington and Lee are not that far away.

  2. This plan would forever change the look and feel of W&M that makes this place so unique. You are taking the quaint colonial, small vibe feel that the university has and replacing the old dorms with warehouses. As both an alum and parent of a current student, I find this plan to be a huge mistake. Who had input into this plan? This is what happens when decisions are made from the top-down.

  3. Student makes a good point. How is W&M going to fund the $784M over 10 years on an operating budget of about $550M. Have College has staffing issues now, How will they retain quality professors. W&M is losing a great one in professor Greer, hopefully that is not the start of a trend.

  4. In 1985 Richard Moll labeled W&M on of 8 Public Ivies. His original ranking methodology included factors such as academic rigor, quality of faculty, and cost of tuition. as well as assessments of campus facilities, available resources, age, and major cultural traditions celebrated at each institution. In a 2001 update Howard and Matthew Greene included the W&M in their list of 30 Public Ivies, 1 of only 4 in the mid-Atlantic region. Let’s hope this plan is adjusted to have buildings befitting a Public Ivy and not a Motel 6.

  5. Perhaps the administration should show they can fix the dining problem before taking on a massive rebuilding effort. Spend a few million to properly staff the dining halls, keep them all open, remedy the health code violations and consistently serve decent food. Once they can demonstrate they can successfully do that then they can take a shot at fixing housing.

  6. First the debacle with the AD hiring and trying to cut sports, not understanding Title IX, plagiarism, the subtle, or not so subtle, step away from the “one tribe” tradition, passing over a dedicated long serving W&M staff member for a “woke hire” for the Dean of Students position and now this plan to turn W&M into another VCU. A reputation built over more than 325 years will be gone in a decade if she remains. Yes, W&M must prepare for the future but not at the expense of all that it is, look beneath the veneer of the buzz words contained in Vision 2026. Wake up Board of Visitors, reverse your decision to keep her as President, buy out her contract, a much smarter move than allowing this plan to move forward. Now is the time for you to “Be Bold” before it is too late!

  7. Interesting idea. Sounds to me like the public private partnerships that brought us for profit prisons. So we will get motel style dorms, hopefully the doors won’t lock at night, and developers will get our housing fees. Sounds like a good plan to me. Maybe the administration should do more outreach to faculty and students. A lot of untapped brain power that could be put to good use. But that makes too much sense. So, no let’s just announce a plan when everyone is working hard at the end of the semester. Time to transfer while the school as a good rep.

  8. Does this plan have student support? Does this plan have faculty support? What are the financial details behind this plan? Care to share the financial plan? The number of people going to college is going to shrink over the next few years, does this plan make the College of William and Mary a more attractive choice? W&M is a beautiful campus, will it still be one after this plan is implemented? We see a couple of pictures of what changes to Old Dominion Hall will look like. No artist renditions of what the rest of the changes will look like? I wonder why?

    • Current student here – absolutely yes on student support. The freshman dorms are atrocious. Many of the upperclassman dorms aren’t much better. We all want better

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