Maple Hall, the newest residence building at NJIT, is an apartment-style dorm that holds 548 beds. Its amenities include individual bedrooms, private bathrooms, a private kitchen, and a living room.
The construction of Maple Hall began in Spring 2021. It was scheduled to be complete by mid-August 2022 but was “deemed substantially completed” by Aug. 26, a week later than expected, according to Sr. Vice President of Real Estate Development and Capital Operations Andrew Christ and Project Manager of Campus Planning, Design, and Construction Denise Davis.
“We had pandemic-related supply chain issues on several building components along with a dearth of available tradespersons,” Christ explained.
From Sept. 21 through Oct. 3, residents were able to fill out a survey to give feedback about living in the hall for almost a month. 19 out of 51 total respondents stated that they picked this residence building as their first choice because of the personal kitchen. 35 out of 51 say that the building did not live up to their expectations.
Many listed the parts that are currently missing from their dorms and the building itself. Some apartments were reported to be missing mirrors, window blinds, and pipe connections to the dishwasher.
“Nothing’s finished. I’m trying to play pool but there aren’t any balls or cues,” third-year civil engineering major Johao Vilcarino commented. He also mentioned that the terrace, game room, and Esports lounge are yet to be completed. When asked about these unfinished parts of the building, both Christ and Davis brought up the “punch list.”
This list includes jobs within the building like fixing, replacing, or bringing in certain items, which are ordered in accordance with priority. Christ said that the items on the punch list would be “addressed systematically – some in the near term and others over the semester break to minimize the impact on the residents. If something needs to be repaired in the near term or is impacting the ability to use the room, residents can report it through the Maple Hall portal, and the management team will see that it is repaired.”
One concern the residents have is the trash chutes on each floor. Many have stated how small they are and how it is always filthy in the trash room. “I don’t know if the trash room is so gross because it’s not finished or because people aren’t using it properly,” third-year computer science and information technology major Zoe Coughlan shared.
“The trash system is not well thought out,” said graduate biomedical engineering student Sandra Raju. “With the number of people living on the floor and the trash room only having a small chute that can only take small trash bags along with a singular trashcan meant for cardboard and ‘larger’ trash, it fills up pretty quickly. Gallon-sized trash bags, which I think most people use especially in the kitchen, cannot fit down the trash chute, so they are put into the bin, but that causes it to overfill pretty quickly.” There have also been many reports of the trash chute being clogged because of how small the size is compared to the trash bags that most residents use. No solution to this problem has been proposed to date.
Another major issue residents have been facing is the constant fire alarms. “We had a ridiculous number of times the fire alarm went off — what felt like fifteen times in three days. A lot of people were wondering just what was happening; it seemed like way too many — some were back-to-back just for someone to be burning something,” second-year biology major Maya Quinn said. “We never found out what happened.”
Christ clarified that the system had been installed to meet the strict fire code requirements. “We are able to make adjustments to the sensitivity without impacting the health and safety of the occupants, which we have done. The alarm frequency has been reduced dramatically,” he said. The constant fire alarms seem to be due to burnt popcorn or “other cooking issues,” as stated by Davis.
“The communication between workers and students is not there,” second-year chemical engineering major Brooke Barney said. “No one knows the correct rules and regulations. No one knows what is happening!”
Some students gravitated towards living in Maple Hall for better accessibility, but their needs weren’t fully met upon arrival in the building. “I didn’t get a bathtub because I got a wheelchair accessible room, but this wasn’t noted anywhere during the room selection process, which is very annoying. The shower had nothing blocking the water from coming out in order to be disability accessible and wasn’t angled properly, so the shower flooded out into the rest of the apartment,” fourth-year computer science major Zachary Mull said. “I was effectively without a shower for the first two weeks until they finally had someone come out and put a temporary barrier so it wouldn’t flood.”
“The community is largely unsatisfied with Maple, and residents want a partial refund. If it were one or two issues, there would be no harm, no foul,” fourth-year computer engineering major Erika Hurst said. “But right now, this is affecting our residency, and we are paying a ridiculous price for a building that does not properly function. This is a mess.”
“It’s got potential, but the rushed nature of it makes me feel like it will start falling apart in the next two years. The doors to the stairwells already have their windows cracking due to stress. There are tons of places where they painted over bare concrete and it’s already started peeling. The floors of the rooms also clearly show how rushed the paint job was,” Mull added. “The idea of apartment-style dorms is awesome, but the execution sucked.”
Davis and Christ stated that their goal had been to “provide students with a first-class, apartment-style living environment unlike anything else we have at NJIT.” Their team appreciates the patience and the positive feedback shown by the residents of Maple Hall.
“I found that everything lived up to my expectations and matched what the diagram posted online showcased. I was lucky that my room was completely finished and furnished, because I know others on my floor did not have that,” Raju mentioned. “The only downside was that the rooms weren’t cleaned after construction so the floors have drops of paint and there was sawdust and dirt, but nothing that couldn’t be cleaned up.”
“I am very content with my stove, my sink, my living space, and my room,” second-year mechanical engineering major Michael Olivencia said. “It allows me to feel at home even though I am not! Sometimes I find myself contemplating whether it’s worth it to go home or not!”
Christ concluded, “We are especially grateful to the hard-working people in the trades who worked long, hard days to get Maple Hall open for occupancy. In addition, the incredible NJIT Residence Life staff who, along with the RISE management team, make sure our students have the best living experience possible. Finally, Todd Miller, Assistant Vice President for Campus Planning, Design, and Construction, and Denise Davis deserve a big thank you for their hard work and dedication to getting the project done for the NJIT community.”