The December 21st dedication of Allison Hall, Monroe College’s newest addition to its rapidly expanding Westchester campus in downtown New Rochelle, is emblematic of the “cultural revolution” that the college has undergone in the past decade.

Two hundred freshmen, mostly 18 and 19-year-olds, were the first residents of this new residence hall at 368 Main St. which opened in September. “Traditional” college-age students — recent high school graduates — now constitute about 80% of the college’s New Rochelle enrollment. A decade ago, when the college opened its first residence hall to accommodate the international students it had begun to actively recruit, “adult” students with several years of life and work experience and often with children and full-time jobs, dominated enrollment. Monroe’s investment in student housing and international recruitment, primarily in the Caribbean, has paid off. Enrollment had grown from fewer than 400 students in 1994 to close to 2,000 this semester that just ended. In November, the college announced plans to begin recruiting in China. Monroe’s main campus in the Bronx enrolls approximately 4,000 students.

“The vision that Monroe College has for its New Rochelle campus compliments the vision that the city of New Rochelle has for its downtown,” said Marc Jerome, Executive Vice President. “Steady, responsible growth, an investment in the future that creates an environment that will both attract and retain productive members of society who share our excitement over the city’s future. Monroe has had a presence in New Rochelle for 21-years. We have never lost our belief in the city’s great potential.”

Allison Hall is named after one of the college’s three founders, Lucille Allison Jerome, who passed away in September 2003 at age 90. Architect Susan Doban, of Susan Doban Architect, P.C., Brooklyn, said, “I was given an assignment to design a building with specific esthetic guidelines that would serve as an emblem for Monroe College and the culmination of the main downtown district. Its distinguishing architectural feature is a six-story glass tower of light that is a marker of the campus’ gradual procession across several Main Street blocks. The tower is capped with an upwardly projecting roof, a symbolic outreach towards the future.”
Doban noted that the building was set back slightly on an angle and carved into the natural downhill topography of lower Main Street in order to maximize its visual impact without overpowering pre-existing buildings. These include Milavec Hall, the former Librett’s Hardware Company store whose renovation into classrooms and administrative offices she also designed. Milavec Hall opened in the fall of 2003. Allison Hall’s two-bedroom suites with common living rooms include several large corner units with large picture windows affording breathtaking views of Long Island Sound.

Doban noted that the ground floor was designed to open up onto Main Street and to create an inviting feeling. Visible to passers by are the common computer room with ___ computers with high-speed Internet connections and bistro, where breakfast and lunch are served and other campus activities take place. There is also a fitness center with several cardio fitness machines and weight training equipment, as well as overhead television monitors that seem to be perpetually tuned to MTV.

Blue “spandrel glass” is used on the northwest corner of the building, the first visual impact of the building, as well as the tower of light. It gives both color to the building and a subtle but striking juxtaposition to the façade’s “silver fox” brick, chosen to compliment the Peter Bracey Apartments across the street and the limestone that sheaths Milavec Hall.

Jerome and David Dimond, Vice President of Administration for Monroe College, oversaw the construction, along with Bob Blum, construction manager for Holt Construction of Pearl River, NY. Structural engineer was Gilsanz Murray Steficek, New York City.

Five hundred students live in Monroe College residence halls that also include Syndicate Hall and Franklin Hall on Main Street, and apartments on Fountain Place and in Harbor House, adjacent to Hudson Park. Saadia Del-Llano, Director of Residence Life, oversees a staff of several residence directors and resident assistants. She noted that since she joined the college in June 2002, “There has been a 50% increase in student housing each fall semester. I attribute this to the fact that we have a really good product with attention to academic success being constant.”

Monroe College’s Winter semester begins January 6th. For information on enrollment call 1-800-55-MONROE.