Brandeis University | Skyline Residence Hall

Waltham, MA

Leggat McCall Properties (LMP) was engaged in 2015 to help the university complete a feasibility assessment and to develop a variety of scenarios for renovating an existing iconic building or constructing a new residence hall in its place.

The assignment included a detailed study of the Usen Castle complex, one of the most iconic and oldest buildings on campus and one that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After seriously studying various renovation options and deeming them impractical, Brandeis ultimately decided on a project that constructed a new 4-story residence hall, while retaining a portion of the Usen Castle and renovating the beloved Chums coffeehouse on the Castle’s first floor.

Once the decision was made to construct a new residence hall for occupancy in fall semester of 2018, there was no room for error. LMP provided overall strategic planning and project management from conception through occupancy and close-out. Key to the success of this project was the early creation of a project charter that outlined project goals for design, budget and schedule, and the assembly of a team where all members bought in to the aggressive goals of the client.

The permitting process for this project was complicated given the existing Usen Castle was on the National Register of Historic Places and demolition would require securing Waltham Historical approval and a one-year statutory demolition delay. LMP was able to successfully navigate the process without triggering additional review and helped Brandeis avoid undue cost and schedule impacts from this process.

At the same time, LMP was able to develop a project plan that navigated through additional regulatory hurdles, made efficient use of the demolition delay period for thoughtful design, and commenced and completed construction of the new residence hall in ten months.

One of Brandeis’ goals for this project was to reduce CO2 emissions by minimizing the use of fossil fuels and using renewable energy sources on campus. The Skyline Residence Hall incorporated geothermal wells as an energy source for HVAC and hot water as well as rooftop photovoltaic panels. This was the first time that Brandeis or LMP had constructed a building where geothermal energy was the only source for HVAC and HW without a backup system. Due to these sustainable initiatives, LMP was also able to secure almost $400,000 in incentives and grants from Eversource and the MA Clean Energy Center.

The completed four-story residence hall now houses 164 students and has collaboration and study spaces on each floor. The building also contains 100-seat and 30-seat multi-purpose rooms.

The Skyline Residence Hall was designed and built to be LEED Gold equivalent, won an AIA National Housing Design Award, and was recognized as an award-winning project by the Construction Management Association of America.


Project Highlights

  • Size: 53,000 SF; 164 beds
  • Property Type: Academic Residence Hall
  • Year started/completed: 2015/2018
  • Owner/Client: Brandeis University
  • Architect: William Rawn Associates
  • General Contractor: Bond Brothers
Services Rendered:
  • Project Management