Swing Space’s future uncertain

With Yale’s sweeping residential college renovations slated to end this summer, new occupants will soon inhabit the Swing Space dormitory.

Swing Space has housed undergraduates displaced by residential college renovations every year since 1998, but the building will open up for other uses next fall when the overhaul of Yale’s dormitories finishes. Administrators said plans for the space are still in flux, but the dorm will likely be shared by Yale College and Yale Law School in the short term.

Swing Space was built in 1998 to be inhabited for 20 years and then completely remodeled.
Swing Space was built in 1998 to be inhabited for 20 years and then completely remodeled.

“The availability of Swing Space to Yale College makes it possible to think creatively about other groups of students that one would want to invite here,” Yale College Dean Mary Miller said.

Miller said Swing Space will primarily serve as freshman housing for students in the new colleges in the future. Next year, the residence may host overflow students from the new Visiting International Student program first announced last Thursday, Miller said. The program, which will bring 24 students from three of Yale’s partner institutions to campus for a year, will eventually be suspended for a year to make room for freshmen housing while the new colleges are built.

“We can take stock of the [Visiting International Student] program during that year and re-calibrate as necessary,” Miller said in an interview Monday. “I would hope to renew the program after the one-year hiatus.”

The Law School originally planned to take all of Swing Space starting in 2012, but decided in 2009 to occupy only a portion of the building because of budget constraints, University President Richard Levin told the News last November.

Deputy Provost Lloyd Suttle said in an e-mail Tuesday that the current plan is for the Law School to occupy the top floor of Swing Space next year. Eventually, he said, the entire dorm — which contains 110 suites and can accommodate between 220 to 440 residents — will go to the Law School for office and programming space.

Suttle said he does not yet know how the lower floors of the building and the administrative office suite on the first floor will be used. But administrators have no shortage of ideas about the building’s future.

Provost Peter Salovey said Swing Space could potentially serve as an annex building for undergraduates, like Arnold or McClellan halls. Swing Space could also act as a “staging mechanism” for students in the new residential colleges, Salovey said. The dorm would serve as freshman housing for students in the new residential colleges. Entire classes of students would move to the new colleges each fall as space became available during the construction process, he said.

Law School spokeswoman Jan Conroy said in an e-mail Tuesday that the Law School will likely open administrative offices on the top floor of Swing Space late next year, although the timeline remains uncertain. Conroy said the Law School may convert the space to dormitories in the future to address a current shortage of on-campus housing.

“Dormitory life is an important part of Yale Law School’s sense of community,” Conroy said. “We’re looking forward to its restoration.”

Money raised from the Law Tomorrow campaign — a fundraising effort analogous to the University-wide Yale Tomorrow initiative — will be used to pay for minor renovations to Swing Space, Conroy said.

The state of the economy and fundraising progress will determine the timeline for both the construction of the new residential colleges and plans for Swing Space, Salovey said.

Construction on Swing Space ended in 1998, Miller said, adding that the building was originally designed to last just 20 years — then be gutted and renovated. The building has no official name, only its 100 Tower Parkway address.

Upperclassmen from Ezra Stiles College currently reside in Swing Space while Stiles is renovated.

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