Colleges & Universities

NYC skyscraper becomes 'unreal' dorm, world's tallest

John Fanta, special to
33 Beekman at Pace University
Source: Pace University

There's a new skyscraper in the city that never sleeps, and it's open 24 hours a day. It also happens to be a dorm.

This week, Pace University gave higher education a brand new meaning by cutting the ribbon on 33 Beekman — which at 34 stories and 172,000 square feet boasts of being the world's tallest college residence.

The dorm will house 770 students on Beekman Street in Lower Manhattan, within walking distance of the newly reconstructed World Trade Center. Sitting one block from Pace's main academic building and campus center, 33 Beekman gives students a panoramic view of the Freedom Tower, Wall Street and the East River.

"Our new residence hall at 33 Beekman Street is a transformative addition to our campus and a reminder that Pace is a vibrant presence in Lower Manhattan," said Pace University President Stephen J. Friedman, in a statement.

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Pace is the latest in a string of universities that are trying to redefine student living facilities even as tuition costs surge nationwide.

A growing number of urban campuses are including a host of amenities to make the dorm experience more grown up; features include flat-screen televisions, comfortable common areas, Internet access and residential style rooms and apartments.

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In some cases, the urge to splurge on major capital projects has left some colleges and universities with a debt hangover. Recently, Ohio's Miami University undertook a massive renovation of its dormitories that cost nearly $100 million and added to the university's debt pile of nearly $700 million. At the University of Massachusetts, an infrastructure spending boom inflated the institution's obligations to $3 billion.

A Pace University representative did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for the new dorm's cost.

An 'unreal' atmosphere

On top of providing students with new rooms and private restrooms, 33 Beekman features three student lounges, a multifunctional recreational space, a fitness facility and a kitchen. A 3,000-square-foot public plaza at the building's entrance serves as a welcoming point to residents and community members.

For their part, students appeared impressed with their new digs.

"The hall is unreal," Brian Thomas, a Pace University sophomore, told CNBC this week.

"One of the biggest reasons why I came here was because of the city atmosphere," he said. "I think this really shows that Pace is embracing the NYC atmosphere and using it to the best of its advantage."

This new 172,000-square-foot residence hall is part of what has been a period of major renovations at Pace. SL Green Reality Corp. developed 33 Beekman, which was designed by Gene Kaufman Architects. SL Green also developed 182 Broadway, Pace's 609-bed residence hall, which was completed in 2013.

Facility enhancements to Pace's campus include new performing arts building, renovated science labs, and clinical education nursing labs.

"Throughout my four years here, it's been really cool to see Pace continue to grow in renovations," said senior Megan Kinzel. "Now, it's cool to say that I go to the college with the world's tallest dorm hall."