Colonial to house residence hall

by Beacon Staff • March 15, 2006

With the Piano Row Building set for completion this fall and the Paramount Center complex slated to open in 2008, students are adjusting to the idea of a more centralized campus.,Last month, Emerson College announced a plan to renovate the Colonial Building into a dormitory that will accommodate 400 students, a move that would further cement the college's title as "The Campus on the Common."

With the Piano Row Building set for completion this fall and the Paramount Center complex slated to open in 2008, students are adjusting to the idea of a more centralized campus.

"I think it's a good idea, because we'd all be so close," said Sarah Aaskov, a freshman broadcast journalism major.

David Rosen, vice president of public affairs, said the college leased the Colonial, located at 100 Boylston St., from its owners in August of 2003 and had been considering the idea of renovating it since then.

"The desire of the trustees [of Emerson College] was for a residential campus and a lively place for close to 75 percent of students to live on campus," Rosen said.

There are more than 3,000 undergraduate students at Emerson, according to a press release from Public Affairs. The college currently houses 40 percent of the student body.

The college has recently put 6 Arlington, 100 Beacon and 132-134 Beacon streets, which house 450 students, up for sale. The DoubleTree Hotel at 821 Washington St. will also not be in use next year.

The new Paramount Center will house 250 students, the Piano Row dorm will house 560 and the Little Building houses 750. With the rooms added in the Colonial renovation, Emerson College will offer 1,960 on-campus beds, enough for 65 percent of total undergraduates enrolled, Rosen said.

The college will also have the option to expand its library onto the second or third floor of the Colonial building, President Jacqueline Liebergott said in a press release.

Max Goldberg, a junior theatre studies and writing major, said he often uses the library for rest and looks forward to an expanded space.

"I hope they make the desks even more comfortable, because my apartment needs a new futon," Goldberg said.

Unlike the Paramount Building, Rosen said that the Colonial Theatre renovation will not include space for students and will remain a strictly commercial theatre.

Sophomore BA theatre studies and lighting design major Sarah Read said she doesn't think it would be a good idea for Emerson to use the Colonial Theatre, and that it would be "stepping into Boston's history."

Kirsten Opstad, a sophomore BFA theatre design/tech major, said theatre space in the Colonial would not be conducive to student needs.

"The bigger a space is, the less likely a student group will get to use it," Opstad said. "If they build more black box [theatres], that supports more creativity, because it's more accessible."

The Paramount Building will house a black box theatre, a simple stage with versatile space.