The Boston University community is celebrating 50 years since the opening of Warren Towers, a landmark on BU’s Charles River Campus that has played a role in many students’ BU experiences.
“These days, the majority of the students living at Warren Towers are first-year students, so it’s that first impression that they have when they come to the university. It’s the quintessential dormitory-style feel. That in and of itself speaks to the culture of students when they come to Boston University,” said Daryl Healea, the associate director of residence life for student and staff development.
The three 18-story towers, which officially opened their doors in 1965, make up the second-largest non-military American dormitory, Healea said. Warren was built out of increased demand for on-campus housing.
“When it was built, it was able to house approximately 1,650 students,” he said. “In the mid 1970s, they were able to do some construction on that first-floor block that adjoins the underground parking garage to open up some commercial space for stores and for food options … Since then, there’s become an extremely high demand to live on campus, and the university has increased the occupancy at Warren Towers.”
When Warren Towers first opened, only two towers, the Fairfield and Marshall towers, were occupied while the third was under construction, Healea said. Construction was continued throughout the years, but he said aside from increasing occupancy and adding retail businesses, the dorm hasn’t changed much from its original look.
The towers are named after William Fairfield Warren, the first president of BU and the “First Family,” Healea said. What is commonly referred to as “A Tower” is named after the former president.
“President Warren was in many ways well ahead of his time,” he said. “He was a progressive president who really came up with the idea of Boston University and really helped to establish Boston University to be a very progressive, modern research university.”
The other towers, Marshall and Shields, are named after William Marshall Warren and Shields Warren, the son and grandson of President Warren. William Marshall was the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, now the College of Arts and Sciences, and Shields was a medical statesman and a chairman on BU’s Board of Trustees, Healea said.
Kate Campbell, a junior in the College of Communication, chose to live in Warren as a freshman out of convenience, but ended up staying for her next two years due to her love for the community, friendship and overall residents’ willingness to connect with others.
Campbell said she lived on 6B in Marshall Tower where she befriended upperclassmen that had moved back into the dorms to create a community. The next year, she decided to join the group of upperclassmen that lived on 7B, the unofficial floor for BU’s CRU chapter, an interdenominational ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
“When I was a sophomore, I chose to be a part of a group of upperclassmen that moved back into the dorms, and we chose to live on 7B, and it’s been a blast to live there,” she said. “It’s just been a huge part of my life at BU, and people joke that I’m going to be the old lady who lives in Warren when she’s 80 years old. It’s a place that I really love.”
Campbell said Warren is a hub of likeminded people looking for friendship, which is what makes it such a welcoming atmosphere for first-year students and upperclassmen alike.
“Freshman year is hard, and it can be very overwhelming. It’s better to do it with other people,” she said. “Where you live can really determine how your year goes. People want to live in a place where they feel safe and feel understood and feel loved.”
Andrew Cho, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, was the Warren council president of the Resident Hall Association for two years and now serves as the president of the BU RHA Overarching Executive Council in Student Government. He said living in Warren brought an excitement that he found was unique to the building.
“Warren is a little city within BU within Boston, in a sense. Each of those layers is so diverse and exciting and complex,” he said. “As a freshman, something that is common with all BU students is they come to BU excited for that city experience and really engaging with all the different things going on. It’s just a really good place for transitioning and to experience all the excitement of freshman year in Boston and BU.”
Cho said his leadership in Warren Towers stemmed from excitement and interest in the students’ quality of life. His work with RHA has included planning events for Resident Assistants and their floors, such as a trip to New York, and remaking the patio outside of Shields Tower into a usable outdoor space.
Several freshman students living in Warren said they have come to value the experience of living in the dormitory community.
Jocelin Pinto, a freshman in the College of Engineering, said being around many other first-year students has helped her adjust to college life.
“It’s really good for freshmen because you’re around all freshmen, so you’re all new and you all make friends with each other pretty quickly,” she said. “The dining hall is very convenient, especially when you’re new because you don’t know how to get around.”
Gabriella Espadas, a freshman in CAS, said although she had her doubts at first, she does not regret choosing Warren for her first-year residence.
“Absolutely everyone I talked to was like ‘You have to live in Warren,’ so I did end up putting it as my first choice, and I don’t regret it at all,” she said. “I like that it’s in the middle of campus, so going to the gym is not too far and going to Kenmore [Square] and Bay State is also pretty close. The dining hall’s nice, and you’re interacting with so many freshmen. It actually makes a big difference. At least for me, it did.”