Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878

Rubelmann Hall renovations

Rahee Nerurkar | Student Life

Rubelmann Hall on the South 40 has been planned for demoltion this summer. A new dormitory will be built in place of Rubelmann during the 2014-2015 school year and is expected to be open in August 2015


For the first time in 56 years, Rubelmann Hall will not be opening its doors to incoming freshmen this fall. In fact, the iconic building won’t even have doors—or walls, for that matter.

According to the latest plans from the Office of Residential Life, Rubelmann, a.k.a. Ruby, is scheduled for demolition this summer, followed by reconstruction of an entirely new dormitory over the course of  the 2014-2015 school year. The dorm is expected to reopen in August 2015.

To accommodate the incoming class of 2018 with one less residence hall, ResLife will convert Hurd Hall and Rutledge House , which currently house upperclassmen, to freshmen-only dorms. Additionally, the third floor of Wheeler House will be reserved for freshmen.

Tim Lempfert, director of housing operations, said more upperclassmen will be moving to the north side of campus because of decreased room on the 40, which will remain mostly unchanged. He noted that there are no plans to change the organization of residential colleges, though they will be looking at what to do with a fractured RUSoFo.

“In terms of what we will call the current RUSoFo residential college, that hasn’t been determined,” Lempfert said. “But the plan would be that Umrath and South 40 House would still be in the same residential college.”

As for Rubelmann itself, renovation plans are extensive. While the final forms of these spaces has not yet been determined, Lempfert said that a 200-person auditorium, a dance studio, a recreational space and an expansion of the Social Justice Center (currently residing in Umrath House) are all being considered, along with academic study spaces. The new Rubelmann  will also include an apartment for the residential college director.

Pending official board of trustees approval later this year, the new building is slated to contain predominantly modern suite-style double rooms, with some single and triple rooms.

Freshman Nisha Dhanik, a current resident of Rubelmann, was hesitant to embrace Ruby’s transition from traditional to modern-style.

“The modern dorms are nicer, but a traditional [dorm] has more of a family, community feel to it,” Dhanik said. “I think living in a traditional dorm is a great experience, and as more and more of our dorms become modern, I think future students will miss out.”

Junior Tyler Frank, who is a residential advisor on Ruby 2, also expressed disappointment in the loss of a traditional-style dorm.

“I believe that the new Ruby will be great, but it will lose its unique, traditional qualities and will merely blend into the new modern dorms,” Frank said. “Ruby is an old building, [and] it needs to be rebuilt. However, I wish that it could be reformed as an updated traditional dorm, not a modern dorm.”

Lempfert said the renovated Rubelmann Hall will complete the area outside of the recently remodeled Bear’s Den, replete with year-round Christmas lights and outdoor tables.

“When we completed Umrath, we knew that the second phase of that building would complete the plaza outside of the South 40 Center,” Lempfert said. “We’re excited for that to be completed. I think there’s a lot of opportunities for students to benefit from the space.”

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Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878