Rutgers’ Storied River Dorms Undergo a Transformation

Rutgers’ Storied River Dorms Undergo a Transformation

Students returning to Campbell Hall on the College Avenue Campus in New Brunswick this move-in day will notice a difference in the breezeway beneath the building. It’s not there anymore.

The River Dorms are three high-rise buildings situated between George Street and the Raritan River on the College Avenue Campus.
The trio of residential halls known as the River Dorms – Campbell, Frelinghuysen and Hardenbergh – were built in 1956 and stand between George Street and the Raritan River. Constructed in the then-popular International Style of architecture, the buildings were raised above street level with open air underneath to preserve sight lines between the street and the river. But the open space was largely unused and the interior of the buildings did not have any significant space for study, lounging, or student programming.

That’s all changing now. In 2008, the first phase of a multi-million dollar renovation of all three buildings was completed. The street-level space beneath Frelinghuysen Hall was wrapped in energy-efficient glass walls, creating approximately 6,800 square feet of new area for student activities ranging from private study to group meetings to recreation. 

Rutgers University Housing and Residence Life worked with Saphire + Albarran Architecture LLC of Pennington, New Jersey, to design a space that would promote student interaction.

“We saw a tremendous opportunity to not only create and upgrade activity space, but also enhance the students’ quality of life,” said Steve Dubiago, associate director of housing operations.

Each renovated space has its own signature color scheme and the floor-to-ceiling windows retain the view of the river. On the street side of the building, the windows are angled outward, while on the Raritan side, the windows are angled inward.

“This ‘zigzag’ pattern facilitates viewing into and out of the space by reducing glare,” said Joseph Saphire, principal architect. “Key to our design was maintaining the visual connection between George Street and the river.”

The new space also features wireless Internet access, additional laundry facilities, and a new waste disposal and recycling area. A similar renovation at Campbell Hall will be completed by the time students return at the end of this month.

The $1.65 million Frelinghuysen renovation recently won an Outstanding Designs Award from American School & University Magazine.

The renovation of Hardenbergh is scheduled for completion by the start of the fall 2011 semester.

Media Contact: E.J. Miranda
732-932-7084, ext. 613