7 of America's Coolest College Dorms

If you're looking for a college with beautifully-built dorms, look no further. Here's our top seven list.

The weird, communal, slightly-forced charms of dorm life tend to wear off after a year or two for most people. For others, the thrill of living bunker-style with a group of your peers lasts about a week.

There are some dorms around the country that are less about cooking on hot plates and showering with flip flops, and more about Instagramming to show off to your friends … although you’ll still probably want to keep those flip flops on. Here are a few of those magical places.

1. State Street Village - Illinois Institute of Technology

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No doubt the fastest and most streamlined-looking dorm on the list, Illinois Institute of Technology’s State Street Village debuted in 2003, and is made up of three different buildings meant to be reminiscent of the nearby Chicago “L” train. The modern steel-and-glass complex was designed by famed American-German architect Helmut Jahn. The building is just as impressive on the inside as it is on the outside, featuring top-floor open decks, and stainless steel furnishings designed by Jahn himself.

2. Usen Castle - Brandeis

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When you were a kid, fairy tales probably had you convinced that living in a castle was the ultimate sign of success. Until you reached middle school and realized that they were mostly built by people who were trying to avoid the black death, protect themselves from roving bands of marauders, and generally live past the age of 25. But if you attend Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., your castle dreams can live another day. Usen Castle is home to 120 Brandeis sophomores and is modeled after medieval architecture, but was actually built in 1928, making it land somewhere between a real castle and the Excalibur Hotel in Las Vegas on a sliding scale of authenticity.

3. Simmons Hall - MIT

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Some MIT freshman might find it a bummer that they’re required to live in dorms, but at least they have a shot of ending up in Simmons Hall. Students lovingly refer to the massive $78.5 million modern structure as “The Sponge.” Simmons opened in 2002, and is home to some 344 undergraduates. Each room is equipped with nine small windows and modern furniture, but because of the building’s shape, they’re occasionally geometric oddities. It should be noted that at night, Simmons Hall looks roughly like a metal alien crab that has descended on the MIT campus, and is bent on total destruction.

4. StuVi2 - Boston University

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Referred to by Boston.com as “perhaps the most opulent residence hall to ever grace the local college landscape,” the crazy luxurious yet somehow still sustainability-focused StuVi2 is two towers of primo sophomore, junior, and senior college living. Inside the steel-and-glass buildings—19 and 26 stories—you’ll find plush, adjustable furniture, enormous chandeliers, and 180 degree Charles River-side glimpses of the Boston skyline. The multimillion dollar views won’t cost quite a million dollars, although they do cost roughly $13,000 a year, which might as well be a million dollars to most college students.

5. The Heights - Montclair State University

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Opened in time for the Fall 2011 semester, Montclair State’s The Heights complex houses 1,978 students, and looks more like a massive luxury hotel than student living. The two buildings feature eight residence hall wings housing all years in single and double rooms and suites. The Heights costs students about an additional $1,000 over other on-campus options, due to the spaciousness and awesomeness. Not bad for a state school.

6. Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Hall - Scripps College

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These Mediterranean digs look like a villa an oil magnate would retire to but alas, Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Hall at Scripps College in Claremont, California, is a place of college residence. Completed in 2000, the building houses just 86 students in singles, doubles, and suites. In addition to dorm rooms, the building features a living room, a grand staircase and a “courtyard and a raised terrace” where croquet is (probably) played.

7. South 40 - Washington University

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St. Louis’ Washington University is known for having some of the fanciest and largest dorms in all the land, but the homiest student housing at WU has to be South 40, which looks like its own self-contained, upscale suburb. Around “town” students will find a bakery, a cafe, a fitness center, a kosher kitchen, and volleyball court and basketball courts. There are ten total dorm communities in the South 40 area that run the gamut in quality.

Sources:

Becker, L. (2003, August 1). Back to School. Chicago Reader. Retrieved July 31, 2014, from lynnbecker.com

Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Hall. (n.d.). Campus Life. Retrieved July 31, 2014, from scrippscollege.edu

Heyboer, K. (2011, September 14). Usen Castle at Brandeis University. NJ.com. Retrieved July 31, 2014, from nj.com

Jan, T. (2009, September 2). BU dorm offers a study in luxury. Boston.com. Retrieved July 31, 2014, from boston.com

Life in a Residential College. (n.d.). Washington University. Retrieved July 31, 2014, from reslife.wustl.edu

Nasr, S. (2007, January 8). Sponge Life. MIT Technology Review. Retrieved July 31, 2014, from technologyreview.com

SIMMONS HALL. (n.d.). Steven Holl Architects. Retrieved July 31, 2014, from stevenholl.com

Student Village » Housing. (n.d.). Boston University. Retrieved July 31, 2014, from bu.edu

Usen Castle. (n.d.). Brandeis University. Retrieved July 31, 2014, from brandeis.edu

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