What is 160 Massachusetts Avenue like from Behind the Glass?

160 opening night

By Belinda Huang

At first glance, the new state-of-the-art 16-story tower on 160 Massachusetts Avenue looks like a modern high-end hotel. With its first three floors wrapped in glass, its lobby outfitted with contemporary furniture, and its two-story dining space, it’s easy to mistake it for something other than a building for music college students. But upon further inspection, you will see vibrant musicians walking in and out carrying instruments and equipment, and you begin to realize that an eclectic body of energetic, creative artists is defining the essence of the building.

Since opening in the start of this spring semester, much has already taken place inside its glass-wrapped exterior. Both resident students and off-campus students are utilizing the space as a valuable asset for inspiration and community. As a resident myself, I can attest to the space as one of the integral components of my positivity and success here at Berklee. As I interviewed different students, both residents and non-residents, I reached a common consensus—160 Massachusetts Avenue is an inspiring place.

Among its many features, the practice facilities, the fitness center, the views, and the cafeteria are its key highlights. There are 23 practice rooms, three of which are ensemble rooms, 173 residence hall rooms for 369 students, and a 400-seat dining hall that doubles as a venue for Caf Shows.

According to second semester student Cody Flores, the facilities located on the fourth floor make practicing easily accessible.

“The drum rooms are so convenient. The fact that all the kits are the same brand and that cymbals are provided is great,” he said. “The wait isn’t bad either—I’ve only had to wait once for about five minutes.”

The gym, also located on the fourth floor, is a beneficial resource for students to stay healthy and motivated.

“I love that the gym is all windows,” said second semester Resident Assistant (RA) Kenzie Peters. “I go in the mornings and see the sunrise as I work out.”

The 12 residential floors contain mostly double rooms and a few triple rooms, which have loft-like windows. There are common lounges shared between every two floors as well as communal bathrooms on each floor.

“Everything is super clean. The bathrooms are private even though its public, and I feel like I can dance in there without being judged,” said third semester student Justin Rivera half-jokingly.

“For me,” said Flores, “having a view [from the thirteenth floor] overlooking the city keeps me feeling positive. If I ever feel bad or down, I come to the lounge to see the sun or the night-lights and it brings my mood up. It’s also a great place to spend time with floor mates, playing board games and meeting more people.”

First semester student Jason Cohen shares a similar opinion, elaborating on the unique social aspect of the building.

“All the floors have their own little community,” he said. “Some floors are really peaceful, like my floor, while others have more energy and like to have fun. But we’re all really close.”

According to some who have been living on-campus for multiple semesters, 160 has been an enjoyable experience as well.

“I love being here,” said sixth semester RA Meghan Clark. “It is a very optimistic building. I love that the lounges give opportunity for conversations and people to come and hang out. It creates a huge sense of community and my floor always eats dinner together [in the lounge].”

The new cafeteria is located on the second and third floors, and the floor-to-ceiling windows allow for sunshine to light up the space. There are multiple stations with a variety of different food choices, such as the salad bar, the grill, and the Euro station.

Director of Food Services Jessica MacKool says that the opening of the cafeteria has been a combination of both a lot of work and a lot of fun.

“We started the concept of the new building and dining hall in 2010, so it’s amazing to see it come to fruition,” she said. “We opened understaffed and worked 16-hour days, but Berklee has an expectation for quality. We are committed to doing the best we can do to serve the community.”

Ninth semester student Beau Wright says that the new “caf” is a nice change of setting from the previous one.

“The atmosphere is much brighter, and there’s cell phone reception. The food tastes a lot better, the stations are more organized, and all the staff are really nice.”

Second semester student Emma Williams responds similarly saying, “I really love the natural light. It’s very spacious and feels light and welcoming. I think they’re doing a good job with [the food] for the amount of people [that are served], but they could have more healthier options.”

The only collective complaint about the building has been about the two elevators that serve to bring all 369 residents up and down the 16 floors. There has been trouble accommodating the sheer amount of people, which has led to issues concerning the elevator stopping and breaking down.

“The elevators have to stop at almost every floor 15 minutes before class, which makes living a tradeoff the higher you live,” said second semester student Jeffery Gaiser.

The 10-studio music production complex is yet to open and is “nearing final installation” on the floors located below grade, according to Berklee’s website. The complex will boast three recording studios with isolation booths and oversize control rooms, a Dolby-certified dubbing stage for film and video game scoring, a mastering/critical listening lab, and more.

With this new building, Berklee is pushing to pave the way into even greater depths of innovation and creativity. For many and for me, it is a privilege to be a part of this community at such an exciting time. As architect William Rawn states eloquently, “The Berklee building adds spark and energy to its section of Massachusetts Avenue, and represents what is best about Boston: arts, students, and city life supporting one another unlike almost any other place in the country.