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UConn Unveils Next Gen and Putnam

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

As a school striving for continuous improvement, UConn has seen its fair share of construction projects recently as part of its massive 21st Century UConn mission to update and redesign UConn’s campus over the next few years. Therefore, as students moved back in for the fall 2016 semester, they shouldn’t have been surprised to see another massive project—the construction of the new student recreation facility—now under way in the middle of campus.

However, with this project started, a newly finished project was unveiled and has quickly become the envy of the campus. For the past two years, the Hilltop area has been notorious for its in-the-way construction, out-of-the-way location, and sub-par dining hall, leading many students to avoid this area. However, with construction now finished, many students have been eager to see the beautifully transformed Putnam dining hall and the impressively modern new Next Gen dorm complex which had been hyped up for the last few months before their unveiling. These buildings, which now offer the best views on campus, could prove to be the coolest new place to avoid all of the all of the construction taking place in the center of campus. We took a look inside the new Next Gen building and the newly renovated Putnam to see if they lived up to the hype.


Next Gen

Home to eight learning communities of mostly underclassmen, Next Gen has eight floors and 727 rooms. The majority of rooms are doubles, with a few singles, but they easily steal the show for freshmen housing. Most freshmen at UConn remember their first few weeks living at school as being some of the hottest they can remember. As most dorms do not have air conditioning, students are left to bring whatever fans they can to keep the rooms breezy in the summer heat. At Next Gen, each room is outfitted with a temperature control pad on the wall which lets the occupants control the temperature.  It also takes into account whether their window is open in efforts to control the temperature.

The smooth wood floors and ample space allow for both residents in the room to have plenty of space without lofting their bed. Although the closet space isn’t ideal and resembles the storage space of Towers, the room itself still feels open and not too crowded. The residents of Next Gen do have to use communal bathrooms located throughout the floor, however those were equally as spacious and felt clean and new.  

The hallways are well lit, spacious, and air-conditioned as well. Each floor has a glass study room for students to do homework, take in the spectacular views of the campus, or cheer on our track and field hockey teams.

Down below, the entryway to Next Gen looks more like a hotel lobby with its tall windows and long hallways that lead to a ballroom, several classrooms, and workshops for the learning communities to use. One workspace, known as the innovation space even has a 3D printer, a laser cutter, and a textile station available for student use.

A few eco-friendly features have also been added to Next Gen. making it officially LEED certified. Solar panels which help heat the building’s water, a roof garden, and photovoltaic panels which generate electricity are just some of the features this high tech building has been equipped with. Students are even able to see the energy use of the building first hand on a panel on the first floor of the building. 

Overall, it seems like Next Gen is definitely setting the stage for the dorms of the future. With more amenities than you could ask for, combined with its close proximity to the gym and center of campus, it’s not hard to see that Next Gen could easily become the most coveted dorm for underclassmen on campus — as long as your legs are up for the long walk up the hill that it takes to get there.



Stepping into Putnam for the first time was like entering into a whole new dining hall altogether. There were no remnants of the old Putnam – including the Quesadilla bar and the dark brown-on-brown color scheme – but many new features that brought it into the 21st century. Not only is the dining hall now two floors, but the open floor plan and modern wood and glossy concrete style make it a dining hall fit to match Next Gen’s sleek design.  

As you walk through the entrance on either floor, there is an adjacent wall lined with dozens of herb plants, from basil to mint, that students may use with their food.

Another one of the anticipated features of Putnam is the smoothie bar. Each day, a worker makes dozens of different combinations of fruit and veggie smoothies that students can grab as they get their food. However, the smoothies are not made to order, so it can be hard to tell exactly what ingredients they contain however, a sign is usually posted. 

Both floors contain basically the same food selection, therefore if one of your favorites runs out on the top floor, it is likely that you’ll still be able to grab it from the selection downstairs.

However, it may take twice as long to find all of the food you’re looking for if you have to go between the floors, and the multi-room layout makes it hard to do a quick sweep of the food selection. 

The abundance of outlets in this dining hall makes it a great place to grab a bite while you’re studying.  The variety of seating –from benches to bar seats– gives you plenty of options for any dining occasion.  

While Putnam has added many great new features and gotten a much-needed face lift, the food itself has not stood out compared to the other dining halls around campus. With its lack of a quesadilla bar, small cereal selection, and out-of-the-way location, Putnam may need to find its unique food niche again to make it worth your walk up there if you don’t live in the Hilltop area.



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Katie Lynch

U Mass Amherst

A Communications and Journalism Major at UMass Amherst