MED’s First Student Residence
Groundbreaking on $40 million complex
Officials broke ground yesterday on the Medical Campus’ first student residence, an endeavor that will provide affordable housing for students who may face up to $170,000 in bills for their medical school education.
“This facility will make the burden of a medical education a little bit lighter to carry,” said President Robert A. Brown as a warm, blustery wind whipped the tent where city officials, trustees, donors, administrators, and School of Medicine faculty and students had gathered.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino (Hon.’01) called the construction “good news for BU and good news for our economy,” referring to the project’s 250-plus construction jobs. “Housing is an important part of economic development.”
Scheduled to open in June 2012, the student residence, at 815 Albany St., will be a nine-story complex with 104 two-bedroom apartments and retail and common space on the first floor. The school enrolls approximately 175 first-year medical students each year.
Karen Antman, MED dean and Medical Campus provost, said the $40 million project has been in the works for the past five years, since the school’s advisory board decided to try to decrease the cost of attending BU’s medical program (among the 10 most expensive nationwide). Antman said student housing seemed an obvious solution, considering other urban schools—including those in New York City—have taken the same step.
Catherine Spina (CAS’04, MED’05,’15), former chair of the Student Committee on Medical School Activities, said newly accepted students regularly approach her during open houses to discuss a primary concern: BU’s high cost. “In order to remain competitive, BU needed to do something to mitigate the cost,” she said.
A fundraising campaign has raised $11 million of a $20 million target, to be used in part to keep the rents in the new building as low as $800 for some units. The University will also borrow money through tax-exempt, fixed-rate bonds, according to Gary Nicksa, vice president for operations.
Officials hope the low rents will be a major draw for medical students, who now face median rents of between $1,400 and $2,000 for a one-bedroom apartment and $2,000 to $2,700 for a two-bedroom in the school’s neighborhood.
“During the second and third years of medical school, it’s so crazy,” Spina said. “Living far away is tough. Then add commuting time, and when you’re not sleeping much, it’s stressful.”
The advantages of the new residence aren’t just financial. Antman anticipates that it will also foster an “esprit de corps and sense of community” among medical students, who are competitive by nature. “A common living experience would make an enormous difference in the sense of camaraderie that the classes get,” she said.
Designed by Beacon Architectural Associates, the 86,000-square-foot residential complex will have a brick and stone façade and metal and glass paneling. Nicksa said the fully furnished apartments will be similar to the Charles River Campus graduate housing at 580 Commonwealth Ave.
“It’s really a turnkey situation,” Nicksa said. “You could come in from anywhere in the world and not have to worry about where you’re going to live.”5 Comments