Living at Whitman Initiative
. . . to enhance our campus community
At Whitman, students live on campus for their first two years. Our residency requirement helps to build the learning and living community that facilitates active co-curricular involvement and enhances academic success for our students.
While Whitman has made upgrades and changes to its student housing options, we have not built a new residence hall since 1969, when Douglas Hall was added. Since then, the College’s enrollment has grown from 1,100 to 1,500.
Ensuring that Whitman’s overall excellence is also reflected in our residential community is a top priority for the College. Last year, a committee including faculty, students, staff, and governing board members conducted a comprehensive assessment of our living and dining facilities. Their study identified a residence hall for sophomores and a new dining commons with flexible options as the most pressing needs.
At its February meeting, the Board of Trustees approved moving ahead with these priority projects. Construction will begin after gifts to help make these projects a reality is in place.
A New Residence Hall for Sophomores
Our sophomores are now spread across campus in more than 20 different living situations, creating a sense of disconnection for some students in the second year. The area between Anderson Hall and Mill Creek has been slated as the site of a new sophomore hall.
A Dining Commons
The busy academic and co-curricular schedules of today’s students necessitate more flexible options for dining, and the creation of eating and working spaces in which to study and collaborate. The new facility will be located near Anderson Hall, Prentiss Hall, and the new sophomore hall.
A Sophomore Residence Hall
ZGF—Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects of Portland, Oregon, has provided draft plans and simulated interior and exterior looks for Whitman’s new sophomore residence hall and dining facility.
Their schematic designs focus on creating home-like environments that are supportive of student learning and bring people together, enhancing Whitman’s campus and each student’s college experience.
- Three floors, each with three wings converging into a social area
- Housing for 150+ sophomores with each section of 16 to 18 sharing a lounge and kitchen area
- A mix of single rooms and divided doubles, providing appealing options for sophomore students
- Bathrooms provide greater privacy than traditional residence halls and are gender inclusive
- Connectivity between floors — open stairwells and a two-story entry and common area
- Shared meeting spaces, game rooms, lounges, and activity areas that create connectivity throughout
A Community Dining Commons
- Marketplace layout with menu diversity and multiple food venue options, including a café
- Public spaces for mingling and meeting areas that can be made more private for small or large groups
- Exposed structure and natural daylight features
- Seating for more than 500 plus patio seating facing the green area shared with Anderson Hall and the new sophomore hall
A new campus hub for connected community
- The new buildings will utilize sun shades and natural lighting.
- Natural ventilation, variable speed fans, and water-cooled equipment will be installed.
- Plans include energy efficiency measures like LED lighting, high-performance building envelopes, and water conservation systems.
- Energy monitoring systems will measure building efficiency.
- Buildings will be designed to LEED silver (at minimum) certification level.
Long-term campus improvements
- Prentiss Dining Hall will be removed, restoring the building to its original footprint and opening sightlines to central campus.
- North Hall will no longer house first-year or sophomore students and the new hall will provide flexibility to change or improve other housing.
- New and improved walkways along Mill Creek will better connect campus to the Walla Walla community.
The location of the new sophomore hall and dining complex near Anderson Hall, Prentiss Hall, and Douglas Hall will provide a common area for students to gather. We anticipate that the expanded dining options — both traditional and non–traditional — will draw students, faculty, and staff from all across campus. The creation of a new campus green with recreation space and volleyball courts will also bring students from all classes to this new community gathering space.
Whitman’s financial strength will allow us to utilize reserves and borrow at low rates to complement gifts to this project, but the support from alumni, parents, and friends will be essential to making this important project a reality.
We hope that you will consider supporting this plan to upgrade, expand, and strengthen the residence life and dining experience for Whitman students.