Caltech's newest undergraduate residence, the 211-bed Bechtel Residence—named for Caltech life trustee Stephen D. Bechtel Jr.—officially opened its doors to students on Monday, September 17.
The first new undergraduate housing facility to open on campus in more than two decades, Bechtel is a multiuse residence that will house undergraduates from all class levels along with two faculty in residence, a half-dozen graduate resident associates, and a residential life coordinator. The beds in Bechtel will now make it possible for Caltech to offer all of its undergraduates the opportunity to live on campus throughout all four years of their education.
"Completion of the Bechtel Residence is a milestone in our efforts to provide on-campus housing for all our students and, most importantly, creates a new model of residential experience for this millennium," says Joe Shepherd, the vice president for student affairs and Allen V. C. Davis and Lenabelle Davis Leadership Chair.
The 95,000-square-foot residence, composed of six distinct but interconnected structures arranged around an expansive interior courtyard, was intentionally designed to promote interaction among its residents. Although all of the student rooms are singles, nearly all have been set up in apartment or suite configurations with anywhere from four to 12 rooms in each shared space. The residence also has a 400-person dining hall, community lounges, and a kitchen on each floor; in addition, there are four study rooms and multiple laundry facilities throughout the complex.
"This thoughtfully and beautifully designed new building provides new opportunities to enrich and enhance the Caltech undergraduate experience," says Antonio Rangel, the Bing Professor of Neuroscience, Behavioral Biology, and Economics, who will be living in Bechtel with his family as the new head faculty in residence. "Take for instance, the full whiteboards in every suite—what a great tool for student collaboration."
By providing the additional space needed to house all undergraduates on campus, Bechtel also has freed up Caltech-owned off-campus apartments and houses for graduate student use. Both the ability to house all undergrads on campus and the ability to provide more space for graduate students have been longtime goals for enhancing residential life.
Work on Bechtel, which is situated at the north end of campus alongside Avery on Moore Walk, began in 2016.