Melrose Hall, on the campus of the University of Redlands in Redlands, California, is one of a group of early twentieth century dormitories which border the central quad of the original campus. This historically significant, reinforced concrete structure contains thirty-three dormitory rooms with a capacity for roughly sixty students. Sporadic remodeling over the years had resulted in a loss of much of the building’s original style and elegance.
The physical goal of the project was to modernize all mechanical and electrical systems and to strengthen the structure seismically. Bringing the building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act was necessary. Within the context of these physical constraints, the programmatic goal was to create an attractive, inviting residential environment. Toward this end, the building’s corridors were redesigned with soffits and indirect lighting to give a more residential feeling. In the basement, a combined TV/Recreation/Kitchen room was provided for use by all students, with a laundry room and vending area immediately off this central space. Additionally, to allow coed occupancy, separate bathroom facilities were created for men and women at each floor.
The design accomplished the seemingly contradictory goals of modernizing the building’s systems, providing for accessibility, and maintaining the historic fabric. So successful was this rehabilitation, that the building has served as a model for renovation of the University’s other historical structures, which have fallen into similar disrepair.