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09/23/91

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Kimball -- A 'kinder, gentler' dream

Gone are the closet-sized rooms, the cold feel of concrete and the sound of typewriters clacking in the middle of the night down dimly lit corridors.

Welcome to Kimball Hall -- a kinder, gentler dorm where personal computers hum, and old-fashioned comforts like maple chair rails and double-hung windows provide an instant feeling of elegance and warmth.

"Everyone's first comment is, 'Wow, it looks like a hotel,' " said Emily Simas, a senior resident assistant from Gustine, Calif., as she greeted gleeful freshmen arriving for student orientation on Thursday, Sept. 19.

"I think the students are really pleased with the building and the size of their rooms. I've heard no complaints."

Named for former Stanford trustee William Kimball and his wife, Sara, Kimball Hall is the first new undergraduate residence to be constructed at Stanford since Governor's Corner opened in 1982.

The $10.75 million H-shaped dormitory houses 199 students in a mix of single rooms, double rooms and three-room quads. Each of the three floors has nine-foot ceilings, at least one study room, and men's and women's bathrooms.

Common spaces on the first floor of the center wing include a lounge, computer room, seminar room, laundry room, game room, TV room, residence office and kitchenette.

The decor, by Phebe Gregson, is in Mediterranean shades of peach and cream, with accents of aqua and green. Stained maple hardwood completes the effect.

According to Robin Hensley, new residences project coordinator in the Stanford Office of Residential Education, Kimball Hall was planned as a comfortable home and stimulating educational environment, with maximum student interaction in mind.

Spaces were planned to allow for small and large group activities and faculty involvement in programs and classes.

Single rooms in the four-class, co-ed dorm were placed in the middle of halls so they would be less isolated, while the resident assistants' rooms were placed where the corridors meet, for maximum visibility.

Benches and alcoves scattered throughout the dorm offer inviting settings for casual conversation or impromptu hall meetings.

"This building does not feel institutional at all," said Hensley, who worked with project manager Olivier Pieron and an advisory group of students, faculty and staff to plan the building. "I think it is warm and inviting and timeless."

Modern conveniences

From the outside, Kimball blends in easily with its next- door neighbor, Branner Hall, built in 1924. The wood-frame structure, designed by Backen Arrigoni and Ross of San Francisco and constructed by Dowe Inc., is a contemporary interpretation of the "Stanford look," with red tile roof and earth stucco finish.

A courtyard in the front -- landscaped for the time being with drought-resistant shrubs and redwood chips -- looks out onto Escondido Road.

Despite its traditional ambience, Kimball is a dorm for the 21st century. Each room is wired so that students with personal computers can plug them right into SUNet, the university's central computer network.

Students who don't have personal computers in their rooms have access to a first-floor cluster of Macintoshes, supervised by a student computer coordinator.

Stanford's disabled students will find Kimball Hall particularly inviting. All of the common spaces were placed on the wheelchair-accessible first floor, and each first-floor room door has an extra, lower peephole, so that seated students can see out. The maple modular furniture used throughout the dorm can be modified to suit disabled students' needs.

Smoke detectors, sprinklers and fire alarms are all state-of-the-art, and glow-in-the-dark wall strips lead to fire exits along each hallway.

Educational programs

Residence halls at Stanford traditionally offer students far more than a place to live. They are social and educational centers, providing students with access to new friends and to activities such as community volunteer projects and athletic and cultural events.

Kimball Hall's faculty resident fellows this year will be linguistics Prof. John Rickford and his wife, Angela, who have moved across the street from Wilbur Hall with their four youngest children -- Shiyama (soon to be a freshman at UC-San Diego), Russell, Anakela and Luke -- and a dog named Ebony.

"It's fantastically well equipped -- I particularly like the facilities students have for studying," said John Rickford of his new home. "I think it's going to be a great year."

In addition to overseeing the student residence staff, peer advisers and programming in the new dorm, Rickford will be offering a course in the Kimball seminar room titled "Inter- and Intra-Ethnic Variation in Urban Vernacular English."

The house's staff will include six student resident assistants: Emily Simas, Waymond Jung, Claudine Gay, Teddy Johnson, Brent Holman and Pamela Briskman; head advising associate Eric Kinder; computer coordinator Ed Piou; and two academic tutors, Miriam Baron (math/science) and Travis Ross (English/creative writing).

Probably the only drawback to living in Kimball Hall this year will be the sound of construction nearby, as workers lay the foundation for Manzanita II, the second phase of undergraduate housing on the old Manzanita Park trailer site.

University trustees have authorized just over $12 million for that project, which will consist of two 100-bed, three- story houses. The houses should be completed in time for occupancy by September 1992.

What's on the Stanford food service menu these days?

For students in Kimball Hall, the heavy meat-and-potatoes lineup of years gone by has been replaced by a restaurant-style "scramble system" offering a soup-salad-pasta bar, hofbrau sandwiches, hot entrees, vegetarian dishes and drinks.

Each food item is priced according to a point system and deducted from a quarterly allowance. Students usually use points left over at the end of a quarter to stock up on snack foods and drinks, which they take back to their rooms.

Stanford has used a similar point system successfully at Governor's Corner since 1982, and plans to convert the Stern Hall dining room to a point system this year.

"We've found that the point system greatly reduces food waste," said Libby Long, Kimball Hall's food service manager.

She said students also prefer the system because it is fairer than the old all-you-can-eat approach, which charged light eaters the same price per meal as those with training-table appetites.

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