New Menlo College residence hall opens its doors to students | September 23, 2022 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - September 23, 2022

New Menlo College residence hall opens its doors to students

Dorm will house nearly 300 in the school's first major facilities expansion in decades

by Angela Swartz

Although a little behind schedule, students began to move into a new, $20 million residence hall on the Menlo College campus on Friday, Sept. 16.

The dorms, dubbed John Arrillaga Hall, is the Atherton private college's first new building at the 1000 El Camino Real campus in more than 45 years. School officials, who previously said the project was funded by anonymous donors, are now acknowledging Arrillaga helped fund it. The three-story, 57,267-square-foot hall joins the list of many buildings in the area named after late philanthropist John Arrillaga.

There were two principal donors and a significant number of smaller donors who were also key to assembling the project funding, said Jessica Berger, the school's director of communications, in an email. The second principal donor chooses to remain anonymous, she said.

"It is with students' futures in mind that the college, with extensive donor partnership, begins moving students into this new residence hall. We are thrilled that more students will reap the benefits of the residential college experience," said Menlo College President Steven Weiner in a statement.

The school broke ground on its sixth residence hall in May 2021 and anticipated they'd be completed by April 2022. The delays were due to supply chain challenges and unanticipated complications securing utility hookups, Berger said.

The T-shaped hall has 141 double-occupancy rooms, along with six single-occupancy rooms for resident advisers for a total of 288 beds. The building includes shared kitchens, game rooms and lounges on each floor, Weiner said. The hall is also fully ADA compliant.

The new hall will be gender-inclusive on all three floors. There will be single gender hall bathrooms on each floor. Incoming freshmen are primarily living in the new residence hall, according to the school's website.

The building does not replace any existing infrastructure at Menlo, which was established in 1927, but takes advantage of available space in the middle area of campus where the residence halls are housed.

John Arrillaga Hall is located amidst Kratt, Michael and Howard halls in the center of campus. With its sand-colored exterior, it is similar in style to nearby buildings. According to the school's 2019 master plan, there were 584 beds in five residence halls and an immediately adjacent building across El Camino Real available to students.

The roughly 100-bed O'Brien Hall will be closed for the full school year for maintenance and repairs, according to the school website.

Weiner said "Arrillaga bettered so many communities, and one of his final acts of generosity during his lifetime was ensuring that Menlo's business and psychology students have an affordable place to live in an increasingly expensive surrounding area."

Room and board is $8,125 for a double-occupancy dorm room this school year, according to the school's website. Double-occupancy dorms in other residence halls on campus are $6,750 per year.

Town housing goals

The housing will not count toward the state's 2023-31 Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) targets for Atherton, Town Planner Lisa Costa Sanders said in a 2021 town meeting.

"Student housing, specifically dorms, do not count towards the town's RHNA housing production as it is not considered permanent housing," Costa Sanders said in a May 17, 2021, email. "To be counted as a housing unit, each unit must contain cooking facilities, a bathroom and a sleeping area. The dorms do not include cooking facilities and a bathroom with each sleeping room."

Email Staff Writer Angela Swartz at [email protected]


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