Following the completion of a year-long renovation project over the summer, Stouffer Hall reopened its doors to residents this fall.
Beginning in May 2022 and ending in August 2023, Stouffer Hall underwent a $35.35 million makeover, including the complete renovation of the residential floors, installation of single-use restrooms, new mechanical and electrical systems, and increased accessibility. Stouffer Hall is currently housing only first-year students due to renovations in the Quad.
In a statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian, Director of Residential Services Patrick Killilee said that student rooms were redone and community spaces, such as study rooms, seminar rooms, and lounges, were expanded to meet modern College House needs. New windows were installed to offer better sound and weather insulation, and a central lobby area and guard station were added to the entrance along Woodland Walk.
“The renovation retains some of the original 1970s design with exposed concrete and combines that with more modern aesthetics to warm the space with wood, fabrics, and color,” Killilee said.
While Mayer Hall, which was not renovated, continues to be a four-year building, Stouffer Hall was converted to a first-year dorm for this academic year. According to Killilee, Stouffer Hall will once again be a first-year dorm for the 2024-25 academic year.
Many first-year students told the DP that they have had a positive experience living in the renovated Stouffer Hall, describing Stouffer’s smaller environment as friendly and tightly knit.
“The way the dorm is oriented allows for a community to develop easily. Because we have our lounges and study rooms, we’re able to chill at night whenever we’re all around,” College first year Jason Ramsey said.
College first year Andrew Lu shared a similar experience.
“Stouffer is a little bit quieter than the Quad, but it’s more social than I expected. Being an all first-year dorm with communal facilities makes it still easy to interact with others but also to find quiet space if needed," he said.
Other students mentioned Stouffer’s frequent community events that allow for residents to connect with one another. These have included boba runs and visits to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens and the Philadelphia Zoo.
“There’s a lot of really cool events that happen here. Recently, there was a watermelon eating contest … On Tuesday nights, they do this event called ‘Cookies’ where they bake cookies at nine and people can go and grab them,” College first year Jett Bolker said.
While some students said they enjoy Stouffer's spaciousness and the building’s central location on the University's campus, others noted that the renovations do not appear to be completely finished.
A common issue that many residents said they have experienced are leaks coming from air conditioning units and toilets flooding.
Three days after Wharton first year Laila Aliyeva moved into her room in Stouffer, she said the air conditioner above her bed began leaking water.
“I just got a new mattress topper, bed sheets, and a blanket, and [the water] got all over them," Aliyeva said. "The AC water stinks, so I had to get rid of everything because it was dirty.”
While Aliyeva was not able to receive compensation for her damaged belongings, her AC unit was eventually fixed. However, she said that it still leaks occasionally, but not to the same extent as the first incident.
“The whole situation was really frustrating because it was my third day of moving in, and I wasn’t getting help from the school,” Aliyeva said.
Building Administrator Michelle Majeski sent an email out to residents on September 28, saying that the recurring issue of bathroom toilet drains being clogged was caused by paper towels being flushed down the drains.
Lu said that a fire alarm was set off earlier in the semester due to plastic coverings on the new solar panels. Bolker, along with other residents, added that the elevators didn’t seem to work properly at the beginning of the semester.
Residential Services and Design and Construction said that they have not been made aware of these issues.
According to Killilee, while renovations are complete, there are still “ongoing punch list items that will continue.”
“These are smaller repairs or replacements that are typical at the end of any construction project,” Killilee said.
To improve the accessibility of the dorm and make the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, an elevator was added that runs from the ground level of the building to the patio level, and a lift was added between the first and second floors.
To meet grade changes along the length of the building, the stairs were replaced with a series of ramps to improve accessibility throughout.
Additional work to the exterior will help seal the building from rain and other weather conditions. Director of Design and Construction Christopher Kern said that the University is looking to request approval to make improvements to the patio.
Stouffer College House was originally constructed in 1972 and consists of two residence hall floors sitting above ground floor retail shops, the Platt Performing Arts House, and administrative office spaces.