Beginning in August 2009, Rensselaer students will have a new campus housing option in the heart of downtown Troy. The Institute held a ribbon-cutting ceremony May 15 to unveil a project that has converted the former Best Western Rensselaer Inn into a residence commons to house Rensselaer undergraduate students.
The Howard N. Blitman, P.E. ’50 Residence Commons will expand housing options for Rensselaer undergraduates specifically sophomores, juniors, and seniors while bringing approximately 300 students downtown to engage in the vibrant community of Troy. The new residence commons will be situated at the bottom of the Rensselaer Approach, the century-old granite staircase that symbolizes the connection between the City of Troy and the Institute.
President Shirley Ann Jackson was joined at the ceremony by Howard Blitman, P.E. ’50; Bradley Aldrich, P.E., president of the National Society of Professional Engineers; Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian; distinguished alumnus Samuel Josefowitz ’42; Rensselaer trustees, students, faculty, and staff; and representatives from the project development team, which includes Blitman Building Corp., Columbia Development Companies, and BBL Construction Services.
In commemorating the opening of the new facility, President Jackson noted that the Blitman Residence Commons demonstrates the commitment by Rensselaer to a new paradigm for the Rensselaer student living and learning experience. “We call our vision for student life the CLASS initiative, for the concept of ‘Clustered Learning Advocacy and Support for Students.’ It is a comprehensive effort built around time-based clustering, and residential clusters. It builds upon our award-winning First-Year Experience with class deans, and extends learning across the spectrum of student residential life at Rensselaer. It is based on clusters of residence halls or commons with faculty deans responsible for each commons, with live-in commons deans, upper-class and graduate student assistants, and individual class-year deans.”
“The transformation of the former Best Western into student housing for Rensselaer represents much more than a simple change to a building,” Tutunjian said. “This influx of students into our downtown will one day prove to be the move that enhances the town and gown relationship that we all strive for. When students get a first-hand look at the exciting and eclectic life downtown, the remainder of the student body will then have first-hand accounts to rely on, rather than outdated perceptions. That is a very exciting opportunity for all of us.”
The initiative is the latest step in Rensselaer’s continued investment in downtown Troy. The project, which received strong support from the community, was deliberately designed by Rensselaer to leave the property on the Troy city and school tax rolls.
The building underwent a complete renovation and modernization, including replacement of the building structure and roof, exterior walls, installation of new safety systems, and upgrading of interior furniture and fixtures.
In the new residence commons, 148 double rooms will be used for student occupancy, and there will be an apartment for live-in professional staff and four rooms for resident assistants. A select number of rooms also meet the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards for accessible design. All of the rooms will have private bathrooms, and students will have access to an on-site fitness center. The residence commons also will have a food service facility on site.
In addition to serving as a residence commons, the building contains conference and multipurpose space that will be used for Rensselaer programs and events. Rensselaer will provide continuous shuttle bus service to campus.
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