“Welcome to my crib!” exclaimed Andrew Huang ’20 as he stood in the middle of Meier Hall’s main lounge on a recent evening, with his arms flung wide open. The plink plink plink of ping pong balls echoed through the high-ceilinged room as his buddies played nearby.
The freshman from Washington D.C. flicked a switch, and a giant projection screen descended. “Check it out—surround sound,” he said, pointing to the lounge’s in-wall speakers. “This was the place to be during the presidential debates. We also binge watch Westworld in here. Sometimes we clear out the sofas and club chairs and do yoga. The kitchen is great, too. Someone is always baking.”
Life is pretty sweet in R&DE Student Housing’s newest residence halls, Meier and Norcliffe, which opened in September 2016. R&DE Student Housing built the beautiful residence halls to complement the existing Mediterranean-inspired architecture of the historic Lagunita Court complex on Santa Teresa Street. Many unique features and communal spaces were integrated into the design to encourage student interaction.
“We wanted to enhance the students’ sense of community and give them a variety of spaces where they could study, work on projects, eat, relax, socialize—all the different types of things they like to do in their own homes,” said Imogen Hinds, senior director of R&DE Student Housing Operations.
Student feedback was essential in determining which features to integrate, Hinds said. In addition to the main lounges, each with a spacious kitchen on one side, the new residences have a common area at the main entrance, outdoor gathering spaces, art/project “maker” spaces, seminar rooms and more.
Both Meier and Norcliffe, which each house 109 residents and a resident fellow family, are four-class, co-ed residences and include single rooms, double rooms, two-room doubles and traditional double rooms.
Bryan and Cheryl Brown are Meier’s resident fellows. “R&DE Student Housing’s smartest move was to create intentional work and community spaces,” said Bryan. “One of the things that’s been striking from the start is how residents use the communal spaces. All the students live here.”
“I love it a lot,” said Meier RA Andrew Edoimioya ’17, who spent the last two years as an RA. “We have a responsibility to set the culture in terms of what we do with the space. Essentially we are trying to create a really inclusive community.”
Mission accomplished. Just ask the giant furry Scooby Doo who roamed the halls of Meier. “Scooby” was actually Grant Fisher ’19. Fisher doesn’t normally dress in head to toe fur; he was just en route to Full Moon in the Quad. “We love Meier,” said Fisher, who was joined by his Cardinal track and cross-country teammates. “It’s cool being in a new environment. We’re the first ones. I love the interiors, the high ceilings.”
Residents especially love the kitchen. The roomy space with stainless steel appliances and a granite-topped island with seating for ten has inspired Fisher and company to beef up their culinary skills. Their specialty? “Chicken Parmesan Sliders!” announced Alex Ostberg '17. proudly. “We got the recipe off Facebook.”
Family-style meals have become a thing, and recently, the mother of one of the residents taught everyone how to make macaroons. Grilling in the outdoor space draws friends from other halls, Ujamaa in particular. “There is definitely some Ujamaa-Meier love,” said Caleb Kolby ‘17.
Between all the big-screen binge watching and Chicken Parmesan sliders one wonders: When and where do residents study? After all, at Stanford learning does not take place just in the classroom. One of the university’s priorities is to support and complement students’ academic curriculum within its residences.
To that end, huddle spaces—four sprinkled on each floor—are popular. In his previous experience as an RF, Brown said if students wanted to study together, they’d gather in hallways and use the big announcement boards as drafting space. At Meier and Norcliffe, he says, students pull up chairs in the intimate spaces and work out problem sets on white boards or on small, round paper-covered tables.
“I’ve never been to a library,” confirmed Huang. “I study in the nooks—people will come in and chat but we still get stuff done.”
He had a point. The spaces were deserted that night, but someone had left behind an artifact: big round scraps of tabletop paper scribbled with complicated physics formulas. The practical yet cozy spaces are aligned with Stanford’s essential conviction that formal teaching, informal learning and personal support are integral to a Stanford education.
Music and Laundry
The basement was anything but deserted. A few dozen students crowded in the art/project room (aka “maker space”). On one side stood Counterpoint, Stanford’s all female a cappella group; on the other their male counterparts, The Stanford Mendicants.
Was this the ultimate riff off a la the Barden Bellas in Pitch Perfect?
“No, we’re actually rehearsing the Stanford Hymn for an upcoming performance,” said Tessa Eckley ’17, adding that one of her favorite things about living in Meier is access to all the beautiful new common spaces. “I love having the freedom to come downstairs to the music room anytime.”
Andrew Huang had also headed down to the music room. While he waited for his clothes to dry in the coin-free “Just Like Home” laundry, he relaxed by playing the electric Yamaha piano. Movie soundtracks were his jam, with songs from La La Land in heavy rotation lately.
“At first I was bummed I wasn’t in an all-freshman dorm,” said Andrew, “but once I read about the space and actually experienced it, I was pretty happy.”