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Max Palevsky Residential Commons

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Title: Max Palevsky Residential Commons  
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Subject: University of Chicago, Ricardo Legorreta, College of the University of Chicago, History of the University of Chicago
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Max Palevsky Residential Commons

Housing at the University of Chicago includes 12 residence halls that are divided into 38 houses. Each house has an average of 70 students.[1] Freshmen must live on-campus, and housing is guaranteed but not required thereafter.[2] The University operates 28 apartment buildings near campus for graduate students.[3]

Approximately 60% of undergraduates live on campus.

Residence halls

Blackstone Hall

Blackstone Hall was designed by architect Ralph D. Huszagh, and construction was completed in 1930.[5] At the end of 1953, the University had purchased the building for use as a nurses' residence. The residents who had lived there for several years were reluctant to leave, but for the University a more pressing matter left them with no alternative. A shortage of nurses had led to a "most critical situation" in the University's expanding medical system, and the University could not acquire the badly needed nurses without additional housing.[6]

The University issued termination notices to all Blackstone residents in March 1954. Remodeling of the entire interior of the building began shortly after the tenants had left.[6] The rooms were initially constructed as hotel rooms, so the University formed apartments by connecting pairs of rooms with shared baths and kitchens. Despite the apparent urgency in Blackstone's transformation into nursing accommodations, by the end of 1954 the University continued to have difficulties with filling vacancies in the building. Blackstone was abandoned as a nurses' residence, since very few nurses had lived there.[7] Despite efforts by the housing office to fill the rooms with students, there were still vacancies for 25 student couples or 50 single women.[6]

The Housing Bureau made the rooms available for immediate occupancy at $70–75 per month ($591–634 per month in 2012 dollars), including all utilities except phone service. Laundry machines were provided in the building's utility room. The rooms were advertised first to married students without children, and no pets were allowed.[6]

In 1962, the building was transformed into a dormitory only for single undergraduate women. In 1966, University officials proposed renovations to reverse the "shabbiness" and deterioration seen in older buildings such as Blackstone. Repairs were needed for broken panes of glass, leaking windows, and cracked paint and plaster. Fundamental renovations were also needed for the electrical and heating systems. Damage caused by the electrical repairs and plastering required complete redecorating of almost the entire building.[7]

Breckinridge Hall

Breckinridge House. It accommodates approximately 95 residents plus two RAs and an RH family. As one of the smaller dormitories on campus, but one of the largest houses, it is home to undergraduates, though it served graduate students in the past. Approximately two-thirds of the rooms are single residence rooms.[8]

In 1898, Ina Law Robertson, an Oregon schoolteacher who came to Chicago to study at the University of Chicago, founded "Eleanor Club"[9] to offer affordable housing for employed, single women.[10] The Eleanor Club was very similar to YWCAs.[11][12] Robertson eventually built six residences, with this one being designed by Schmidt, Garden and Martin and opened in 1916.[13] The building was purchased by the University of Chicago in 1968.[10] The proceeds of the sale created an endowment that funds grants for Chicago women and girls in need of financial assistance.[9] The University then named the building after Sophonisba Preston Breckinridge who was the Dean of the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy, which was the University of Chicago's first graduate school of social work.[13] Breckinridge was also the first woman to graduate from the law school of the University of Chicago.

Broadview Hall

Burton–Judson Courts


Maclean Hall

Pronounced "muh-klayn," A River Runs Through It.

Max Palevsky Residential Commons


The buildings' name recognizes alumnus Max Palevsky, who had donated $20 million to the university "to enhance the quality of residential life on campus."[20] Blair Kamin, a Chicago Tribune architectural critic, wrote after their 2002 opening that the buildings "...just [don't] come off."[21] Subsequent architectural criticism has been more favorable, finding that the buildings' layout meets the needs of the modern student body and that their colors and windows echo those of their neighbors.[22]

New Graduate Residence Hall

Tufts House. Both Henderson and Tufts Houses originally occupied Pierce Hall, but with its closure and demolition in 2013, they migrated to New Grad. New Grad has many fine amenities, including an exercise room, a screening room with a movie projector, study areas and a full kitchen, along with the astounding atrium in the lobby.

Pierce Tower

In 1970 the Gay Liberation Front sponsored one of the first openly announced same-sex mixers in Chicago at the dormitory.[29]

Pierce contains four residential houses:

Pierce is scheduled to be dismantled during the summer of 2013. The four current houses will temporarily be moved to other dorms until a new residence hall is built, which may or may not go by the name of Pierce.[31]

Snell–Hitchcock Hall

Main article: Snell–Hitchcock

Hitchcock). They are the oldest residence halls still in use as such on campus. Snell is built in a collegiate-Gothic style, while Hitchcock is Prairie Style inspired Gothic. The buildings both feature limestone exteriors and fireplaces, hardwood molding and trim.

Snell–Hitchcock is currently known for having a high level of community spirit and involvement, which are best displayed at the annual University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt. Also known as Scav Hunt, it marks the high point of the year for many of the inhabitants of the two dorms; as of 2012, the Snell–Hitchcock team has won 13 of the 26 hunts to date.[32] The dorm is on the northwest corner of the University's Main Quadrangles at the corner of 57th St. and Ellis Avenue. It is connected via emergency exits to Searle Chemistry Laboratory.

Hitchcock was built in 1901, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is built in a collegiate Gothic style, like Snell and most of the University of Chicago's campus, but has many Prairie School elements, such as stone corn husks instead of gargoyles and flat-roofed instead of gabled dormers.

Hitchcock is built in the European "landing" style of dormitory with five stairwells linked through the front cloister and basement, though only the basement is used now to ensure that the building is more secure. The three interior "sections" (Sections II-IV) are each built around a single staircase. Each interior Section consists of two floors of four double-rooms with a fourth floor that has two suites (doubles with a large living room and separate bedroom). Most of the rooms have non-working fireplaces. The first floor houses the apartment for the Resident Masters, a live-in faculty couple. Traditionally, each section has had a women-only and a men-only floor, with the suite floor being either single or mixed-sex depending on the desires of the residents.

South Campus Residence Hall

The Wendt. Dining is provided in the recently opened Arley D. Cathey Dining Commons.

Stony Island Hall

Former halls

Shoreland Hall

The Shoreland is a former hotel that was added to the United States National Register of Historic Places in 1986. It was a residence hall of the University of Chicago as Shoreland Hall but was retired after the 2008-2009 school year.

Woodward Court

Woodward Court was a residential hall on the campus of the University of Chicago. It consisted of six houses—Upper and Lower Flint, Rickert, and Wallace. Designed by architect Eero Saarinen,[36] Woodward was constructed between 1957 and 1958. The dorm was demolished in 2001, replaced by the Charles M. Harper Center of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. It was on E. 58th St. between S. Kimbark and S. Woodlawn Avenues, affording residents views of Robie House and Rockefeller Chapel.[37]

Other halls

International House

The Enrico Fermi. Some 40,000 people have lived there since it first opened its doors.

Undergraduates live in two houses located in the East Tower of International House, Pierce Tower, making four undergraduate houses in International House. These College Houses enjoy the unique opportunity to take advantage of the programming and events that take place in International House - while also having the advantage of dedicated House System staff to provide support and guidance to their communities.

An attempt in early 2000 by the University of Chicago administration to close the International House and convert it into a dormitory for the Business School resulted in large student protests and a class-action lawsuit against the university by International House residents. After months of negative media attention and intense public criticism by faculty, alumni, and local activists, the administration finally reversed its decision and allowed the International House to remain open. The International House subsequently embarked on a $30 million renovation project.[38]

International House is colloquially known by students as "I-House." I-House Chicago is a member of International Houses Worldwide.[39]


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