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State-of-the-Art Med Student Residence Has It All

New building lightens debt load, fosters esprit de corps


Last year Simone Ellis’ commute on the BU Shuttle from her Charles River Campus dorm to the School of Medicine could take anywhere from 20 minutes on a good day to more than an hour during a Red Sox home game.

“I spent a lot of time being frustrated with the commute, and I really wanted to be close to school,” says Ellis (MED’15). Her wish was granted in August, when she moved into an apartment in the new medical student residence on the Medical Campus. “For me it will be great to just be here. I can prepare my breakfast, relax, and walk to class.”

Ellis is among the 208 medical students (more than half of them first years) living at 815 Albany St., a $30 million project that had been in the works for more than five years, since the MED dean’s advisory board decided to make attending BU’s medical program, which is among the 10 most expensive nationwide, more affordable. Student housing seemed an obvious solution, especially because other urban schools—including some in New York City—had taken the same step.

Boston University School of Medicine BUSM MED student dormitory and residence, 815 Albany Street

Simone Ellis (MED’15) moved into an apartment at the medical student residence in August. Photos by Cydney Scott

“We were at the top of the heap with respect to student debt, and now we’re at the median and going in the right direction,” says Karen Antman, MED dean and Medical Campus provost.

Comparable two-bedroom apartments in the South End, the neighborhood surrounding the Medical Campus and Boston Medical Center, start around $2,500 a month, according to John McNamara, interim executive director of BU’s Office of Rental Property Management. Students living in the new residence, on the other hand, pay $850 per person for a furnished apartment, with utilities included. That’s a subsidized rate thanks to gifts totaling more than $11 million from members of the MED dean’s advisory board, Shamim Dahod (CGS’76, CAS’78, MED’87) and her husband, Ashraf, and a matching grant from the Leventhal Challenge, established by BU trustee Alan Leventhal (Hon.’09) and Sherry Leventhal.

Erin Jones (MED’13) had been paying $1,100 each month for a third-floor walk-up in an old South End building without laundry facilities, air-conditioning, or an elevator, all of which she has in her new home. She is grateful for the cheaper rent, and she also loves bumping into classmates in the hall or common rooms. “We really don’t have a lot of congregation areas outside of the classrooms,” she says. “This building provides a place to meet someone in passing or glean information from colleagues when you have a problem.”

That nails another of Antman’s goals in building the residence, which she hopes will foster an esprit de corps and improve medical students’ quality of life by providing a safe, close housing option for them. “This is already a game changer,” she says.

The nine-story, 86,000-square-foot building, designed by Beacon Architectural Associates, stands out along Albany Street, with its brick and stone façade, metal and glass paneling, and surrounding garden, where drought-resistant plants are irrigated by a rooftop rain collection system. University officials say that this last green feature and others—including a white roof, recycled building materials, and Energy Star appliances—could help qualify the building for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Boston University School of Medicine BUSM MED student dormitory and residence, 815 Albany Street

Ellis and her roommate, Lauren Ferrerosa (MED’15), live in one of the residence’s 104 two-bedroom suites.

Residents enter by card access after hours, and a call box system allows them to buzz visitors through via a landline or cell phone. The building also features a gym, bike storage, and a student lounge with a white board, a baby grand piano, and a kitchenette.

The ground floor will house Little Sprouts, a child-care and early-education center not affiliated with Boston University. The facility, opening in late fall, will serve the families of up to 87 children, with priority given to Medical Campus employees and students, members of the MED Residency Programs, Charles River Campus employees, and BMC employees.

Antman says additional residences could be built on the 300,000 square feet of space behind the new building. Considering the more than 3,000 students and residents on the Medical Campus, she says, “it sounds like we could expand this and not be squandering money without due diligence.”

Ellis, for one, is happy in her new home: “Everything is really in this building that I need.”

For more information about tuition, availability, and applicable discounts at Little Sprouts, call the center at 877-977-7688.

Leslie Friday, BU Today, Boston University
Leslie Friday

Follow Leslie Friday on Twitter at @lesliefriday.

7 Comments on State-of-the-Art Med Student Residence Has It All

  • nrc on 09.24.2012 at 10:02 am

    These amenities shouldn’t be just for med students. I think that all students should be able to use a buzz-in system. For Pete’s sake, that neighborhood is much more dangerous than the Charles River camps, and they have security guards. I also think BU housing should be cheaper than a month’s rent in the Allston area. College students are also old enough to have double beds in the room. I’m jealous of those who are privileged enough to live in this new building!

    • BU Alum on 09.25.2012 at 10:51 pm

      Maybe when you grow up you will get to live in a building like this. Until then, please stop whining.

    • the older student on 10.04.2012 at 5:14 pm

      It is sad that you would have the need to come here to complain. I agree with the other commenter that you sound quite imature in your statment. Sometimes individuals like yourself have to get a little knowledge about a situation they comment on especially if they have not done the responsible thing of doing their own research. It is a known fact when there is fund raising for a perticular cause there could be leagal issues if the funds are appropriated in a different way. The funds were given by wonderful Alum for the purpose of bridging the transition for medical students in their first year and having a few less (but does not eliminate)worries. There is also a goal to foster a community of support which is desparatly needed in every form for medical students. Getting medical training is not just getting up and going to class. THIS IS NOT UNDERGRAD and a vast majority do understand that their are different challenges that come from varying levels of education and what a wonderful thing for BUSM and those who have graduated to think about one more way to help their students out. The little perks make a difference. I could go on and on but take theses few points away from this. 1. there was a fund raising to help medical students and any small way they can. many recognize it is becomming harder to master the art of medicine as best one can with new advancements/diagnoses eachday. But yet with such wonderful perks students are still paying rent and are not living in a perfect building 2.BUSM note the (SCHOOL OF MEDICINE) ALUM and those closely related to the school have been a huge part in the process for MEDICAL STUDENTS. So if the dental school or the school of public health wanted to gather money for thier students they are in the right to first support their students immediatly under their wing but even with that said Graduate individuals are in the building after getting all incomming 1 year and other medical students situated. It is a great community 3. There are schools with double beds at other colleges and universities. There is a recurrent theme of not doing research. If this was important to you then you should have done your propper research on your college search.4. Do not be quick to claim entitlement to something you do not remotly understand.5. BU undergrad’s usage of twin beds do not relate to you not being old enough for a BIG BOY/GIRL bed. 6. the rent will eventually go up,its being subsidized for now. I wish the best for you and your enlightenment. Enjoy your already cooked meals if you have a student meal plan.

      • Mark Sailing on 10.25.2012 at 5:10 pm

        “the older student” should learn to spell.

  • Morgan on 09.24.2012 at 10:21 am

    Smart, should be a great way for MED students to spend more time together and really make their experience more enjoyable. Although a serious price tag for BU at $40 mil I guess that is what people donate back for.

    What does the article mean by a subsidized rate? Does BU pay property tax + maintenance fees that the $850 cannot cover (meaning the building generates an operating loss each yet)?

    • rse on 09.25.2012 at 4:02 pm

      That is correct. If you add up the labor to maintain the building along with utilities, they are operating at a loss.

  • Leslie on 09.24.2012 at 11:29 am

    Hi Morgan,

    Thanks for reading. Subsidized meaning that alumni donations allowed BU to lower the monthly rental cost/student. Otherwise the rent would have been $1100/month.

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