AKA: University of Washington, Seattle (UW), Mercer, Asa, Hall, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - housing - student housing; built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings

Designers: Haag, Richard, Associates, Incorporated, Site Planners, Landscape Architects (firm); McClure, Royal A., Architect (firm); Richard Haag (landscape architect); Royal Alfred McClure Jr. (architect)

Dates: constructed 1970, demolished 2011

5 stories

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3925 NE Adams Lane
University of Washington Campus, Seattle, WA 98195

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Planned during the mid-1960s and completed by 1970, Residence Hall V, renamed in 1970 as "Asa Mercer Hall," housed 250 University of Washington students of both sexes. Mercer Hall consisted of two, U-shaped units, each four stories tall and covered in brick veneer.

Building History

UW Regents approved the renaming of Residence Hall V to Asa Mercer Hall on 05/22/1970. Asa Shinn Mercer (born 06/06/1839 in Princeton, IL-d. 08/10/1917 in Buffalo, WY), stood out as Seattle's only college graduate in 1861, and, as the city's most learned resident, was named the first President of the University of Washington. He served in this capacity between 1861 and 1863. Mercer made two trips to the East Coast seeking to encourage young women to relocate to the isolated Washington Territory, one in 1864 and another in 1865-1866.

The architect Royal A. McClure, who had practice in Spokane before moving to Seattle, designed the two-building complex.

By 2007, UW Housing and Food Services (HFS) administrators recognized Mercer Hall, composed of two U-shaped buildings containing 440 beds, as the least popular dormitory complex at the University of Washington. Mercer was located on the distant southwest periphery of the campus, and did not attract students. Less than 5% of students chose to return to live at the residence hall, a poor rate compared to other dorms averaging around a 30% return rate. Campus planners went back and forth discussing the possible demolition or renovation of Mercer between 2008-2010. It was decided firmly in 11/2010 that a Mercer renovation, to cost around $105 million, would not be worthwhile, particularly because new construction would cost about the same. HFS decided on the demolition of Mercer Hall in 07/2010, with a new 930-bed facility in place by 08/2013. The new facilities would contain two, four or six-bedroom apartment suites more appealing to upper-level undergraduates and graduates than old-style, single rooms with 1-3 beds. The financial crisis after 07/2008 added urgency to the renovation or construction of dormitories on campus; the Washington State Legislature slashed funding to the school, forcing campus officials to seek out new revenue streams. Dormitories were seen as potential sources of income, particularly if new students from out-of-state, (paying higher, out-of-state tuition) could be lured to live on campus.

Demollished; Mercer Hall was torn down 09-10/2011. More intensive use of the land for dormitories was planned for the site. This project was later known as the "Mercer Court Apartments."

PCAD id: 8677