In February 2020, William & Mary (W&M) engaged VMDO as part of a team with strategic advisors Brailsford & Dunlavey to develop a comprehensive Housing and Dining Master Plan for the first time in the university’s 327-year history. The university’s housing program includes seventy individual residence hall facilities and three dining halls that span architectural eras dating from 1913 to 2013. Given an aging housing and dining portfolio, the university acknowledged the need for a proactive campus-wide approach to plan for renovations to and replacements of the existing housing and dining stock—with plans to complete this ambitious project by 2032. Studying housing and dining in parallel allowed the team to produce findings that will inform an integrated strategy to improve the on-campus student experience. This planning effort began with a thorough assessment of current housing and dining operations, facilities, and student preferences. Its recommendations will help W&M prioritize the investments needed to dramatically improve its housing and dining programs.
The project is split into three phases with each phase addressing different locations and buildings on campus. Over the course of this effort, William & Mary will increase the percentage of beds with air conditioning from 42% to 100%. Meanwhile, the average age of housing facilities will drop from 54 to 10, the number of individual residential halls will drop from 70 to 55, and the number of beds will remain constant at 5,000.
Currently, the primary questions and difficulties the university is facing include, “how can we replace the most beds in the least amount of time… 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.” The plan resolves these questions with a clear road map for renovation and replacement projects that are timed and calibrated to achieve the university’s goals.
The plan is developed in three phases and includes renovation and new construction to either improve or replace all of the university’s outdated facilities. New construction is focused primarily on two precincts of campus. West Campus Housing and Dining envisions 1000 new beds and a new residential dining hall to replace the existing Yates Hall, the Randolph Complex, and the Commons Dining Hall.The site plan will integrate the new complex into the existing landscape, connecting to important campus pathways and celebrating views of and spatial connections to the West Woods. New construction at the Campus Center will fundamentally transform the gateway experience of the William & Mary campus. By replacing the existing Campus Center and several surrounding buildings, the university will create a welcoming new entry experience for students and visitors alike. Finally, 200 beds of new housing will complete an existing quad at Lemon and Hardy Halls.
Chief Operating Officer Amy Sebring noted, “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. 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?”
The plan was unanimously approved by the Board of Visitors at its April 2022 meeting. The university is hopeful to shift from planning to implementation of these plans, which all align with their Vision 2026 goal of “Evolving to Excel.”
Dawes, Lulu. “Lulu Dawes.” Flat Hat News, 21 Apr. 2022, https://flathatnews.com/2022/04/21/college-unveils-three-phase-plan-to-transform-80-of-residence-dining-facilities-over-next-10-years/.