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Rutgers’ “front porch” - The Yard: I want to go back to school

We’ve come a long way from “dormitories” to “residence halls” to apartments and now to The Yard. Yes. I want to live there.


Classes start at Rutgers next Tuesday. Move in is this weekend. But there are 465 lucky students who moved in last Sunday. Students who will be living at what some are calling the “front porch” of the University.

The Yard at College Avenue.

If you didn’t click on the link in that tweet, take the one minute to watch the video. Very cool. And I’m really thinking of getting a drone.

And, yes, I’d love to live there. Thank goodness DEVCO didn’t use Brett Hall as its design model for this set up.

The retail space on the ground level is enough to make most of us who suffered through food at the [Brower] Commons and mad dashes to Greasy Tony’s (Grease for Peace!) drool over the possibilities.

And the choice of vendors was intentional, trying to relate to the students’ experiences from home: Krispy Pizza, Jersey Mike’s, Surf Taco, and - yes, an homage - a brick-and-mortar RU Hungry. Grease truck sans truck.

Not to mention a 2,000 square foot Starbucks. No one will ever sleep.

Rutgers grad and DEVCO President Chris Paladino envisions The Yard as a 24/7 place where students and the community can come together. A true melding of “town and gown”. And, perhaps more importantly, it will give Rutgers a sense of place. A place to gather and to be, something that has been missing.

We had a chance to take a tour while workers were still putting finishing touches on The Yard and the new Rutgers Academic Building (RAB) and we include a gallery here.

In early August, you’d say they’re never going to get it done. Don’t say never to Chris Paladino.

Left: North tower looking up College Ave; right: The Yard with Starbucks (light wood)

And a more finished view of The Yard. Looking for a place to watch the Washington game? Here ya go; bring a blanket or lawn chair.

The views alone are worth the price of admission, er, room and board.

Views from the two-story sky lounge on the 13th floor. Left: Yes, that’s the practice bubble and stadium; right: Old Queens, J & J tower

And if you get the right room, you can watch events on the video board without leaving your room.


For those who need a little perspective, try this view down onto the...uh, The Yard.


The Rutgers Academic Building

Remember the ugly truncated cone-of-a-building that was part of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary? No? Don’t worry, you aren’t losing any great memories. It’s gone, and in its place is the new academic building. When I saw it on August 12, there were workers crawling all over the place. I asked Chris Paladino if classes had already been scheduled in it. The answer was yes, so it has to be done for next Tuesday. It’s big, it’s attractive, it’s comfortable, and you know you’re at Rutgers because of some pretty nice touches. Here ya go.


Nothing on the College Avenue Campus has ever been this big, this impressive, or this well done. Granite steps, not simply concrete, with lights embedded. Impressive open spaces for students to gather, both inside and out. Like I said, I want to go back!


And looking the other way.....

Looking down those steps onto Seminary Place towards Voorhees Mall and Willie the Silent; that’s the Grad School of Ed poking above the trees on the left
One of five large lecture halls, fully outfitted with the latest technology

And you know you’re at Rutgers, how? Well, how about the University shield in a student lounge area of the RAB. The final version will be 3D in relief. Very cool. Very nice. Very uncharacteristically Rutgers.


Honors College

Not a new building, as it was opened last fall with the first 500 “first year students” (freshmen for most of us) being admitted and housed in this structure. Built to have students interact with each other and faculty, there are huge, airy seminar rooms and gathering places. A beautiful building that was intended to inspire. It did me.

First floor lounge in the Honors College

The lounge in the Brett Hall that I knew did not look like that.

Throughout the Honors College are galleries of historical photos of Rutgers, developing an understanding and appreciation of what came before.

And it seems no detail was left out. Making students feel a part of the community, bringing them together, was a key goal of the design. Like this coffee bar....somehow I don’t feel it served anything stronger. And that’s okay. These are the really smart kids.


The new buildings are impressive. In truth, they are not what I came to expect from Rutgers....and I’m happy to see we’ve changed our perspective.

Be gone, cinderblock construction! We’re building something very cool here.