Simmons University has filed plans with the BPDA to shut down its current six-acre residential campus in the Longwood Medical Area and tear down its science building and to replace both with a single, 21-story "Living and Learning Center" that would house 1,100 dorm rooms, classroom and office space and athletic facilities.
In a revised "institutional master plan" filed this week, Simmons does not specify what it would do with the current residential campus after all the students move into the new building on the academic campus a couple blocks away off Avenue Louis Pasteur and the Fenway. However, Simmons says the changes would mean only a modest increase in its total number of dorm rooms, so presumably it would no longer need six acres of space in one of the most expensive and built up areas of the city.
These projects are not intended to provide for a future increase in undergraduate enrollment, but rather to ensure Simmons campus is equipped to provide an exceptional living and learning environment for the same number of undergraduates now and into the future. ...
With the Projects, all on-campus student residents will be consolidated onto what is now referred to as the Academic Campus. The number of on-campus beds is expected to increase from 1,036 to approximately 1,100. Student enrollment and the number of faculty/staff members are not anticipated to appreciably change.
Also in the university's "One Simmons" plan are renovations to the existing Main College Building and Lefavour Hall, which will include ending leases there now held by Children's Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital.
That plan calls for a single campus where students and professors can interact on a more frequent basis; Simmons says that in addition to moving all of its programs to a single, more compact campus, the current 1960s-era, brutalist science building has to go because it just cant't support the sort of "outside-the-classroom meeting spaces and technology" that current schools and students demand.
Research confirms that in a marketplace where all universities and colleges are competing for the best students, the two key decision criteria for such students are: an academically robust program with good lifetime outcomes, particularly job opportunities; and a place where they can envision enjoying spending four years of their lives. The One Simmons concept provides state-of-the-art athletics, dining, science, and residences to support the University’s mission and to attract and retain talent.
The filing continues:
Simmons students’ feedback, and national research confirms, that student-housing preferences have changed. In order to keep pace, Simmons needs to transform from its classic, traditional residential campus to the type of modern and welcoming living environment that prospective students are looking for when they select a college. Current residence halls are aged, with significant deferred maintenance that threatens their utility.
Simmons institutional master plan notification form (25M PDF).
H/t John Keith for spotting the filing.