On Friday, January 21, Converse introduced another landmark on its historic campus by dedicating “The Heath,” a new $12.3 million apartment housing facility that offers a host of modern amenities for students and the greater Converse community.
“The Heath is one of the most sophisticated residential environments in the country in the way it embraces community and connects to the campus,” said Vinicius Gorgati of Sasaki, lead architect for the project.
In addressing the crowd that assembled to celebrate this milestone, President Betsy Fleming reflected, “When we last gathered on this site, I arrived in a rumbling, honking dump truck – wearing a hard hat, jeans and boots – ready to brave the muddy turf to break ground on our new apartment housing. It was an exciting moment full of energy and the magic of our collective, starry-eyed vision for the first apartment housing in the history of Converse College.
“Today, the stunning buildings that surround us far exceed our dreams for this project. Through their beauty, form and function, Howard Hall, Kate Hall, and Zimmerli Common – collectively known as The Heath – are poised to advance community and enhance a vibrant student life at Converse College. And students are packing their bags and ready to claim their new homes next weekend!”
The Heath is the first step in a 10-year master housing plan that will impact every residence hall on campus. The plan will create progressively independent living environments that balance community and connectedness with the development of autonomy and independence.
Inside are three distinctive floor plans, featuring a kitchen, living room and options for single or double rooms. Common areas are designed to integrate residential living with academic and social events that bring all members of the greater Converse community together.
Furthering Converse’s commitment to sustainability, The Heath is Converse’s second building project designed to meet LEED certification standards (following the renovation of Kuhn Hall in 2009).
“From the project’s inception, the planning process has been marked by a distinctive and thoughtful approach that supports Converse’s strategic goals of advancing community and creativity,” said President Fleming.
The project team began by visiting some of the best college housing facilities in the nation. But the Heath was designed to be uniquely Converse, melding the best design concepts to fit Converse’s distinctive culture and needs. Student input was prioritized throughout the project through focus groups, surveys, and their participation on project committees. “The significant level of their involvement strengthened the finished product,” said Fleming. Students also left their mark on the new construction by signing a beam that was installed in Zimmerli Common.
Converse also prioritized fully-funding the project before construction began. In just three months, Converse supporters stepped forward with gifts totaling more than $12 million. Fleming expressed the College’s deep appreciation to these donors, noting, “During a time of economic uncertainty, they made investments that serve the best interest of our students and the long-term vitality and health of the College. The story of The Heath is one of optimism and can-do spirit and an incredible example of what can be accomplished when people are willing to think differently about operations and avenues to success.”