Break is drawing to a close, and the housing lottery is fast approaching. Use your last weekday off to acquaint yourself with the next dorm in our 2008 housing series: Nussbaum.

You could do a whole lot worse than 600 W. 113th Street, a.k.a. Nussbaum. To begin, Nussbaum’s in a great location – equidistant from two subway stops and close to what passes as Morningside haute cuisine (Milano Market is across the street, Community Food and Juice is down the block, Roti Roll is a hop, skip, and a jump away). Nussbaum is also a lot closer to campus than it seems to be, although if you have an early morning class in Pupin or Fayerweather, you’ll probably have to allow yourself more than five minutes to get there.

Columbia students inhabit only half of Nussbaum, which means that you’re bound to bump into unfriendly, older residents and their tiny dogs every now and then. However, Nussbaum’s borderline status as a Columbia dorm also leads to a few major pluses. Most of the security guards in this building are familiar enough with residents that they’ll allow Nussbaum denizens to walk past the front desk without swiping in. They’re also pretty lax about signing in visitors.

Members of the building’s maintenance staff are incredibly helpful and quick to address concerns. If you have roaches or the mirror on your wardrobe isn’t hung correctly, you can just run downstairs and notify someone instead of going through the red tape of submitting a maintenance request through the housing website. The paucity of students in Nussbaum means that each R.A. is responsible for two floors, so it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be caught drinking if you’re underage.

While most singles and doubles are spacious and airy, it’s possible to get stuck in a room that faces the shaft and is small enough to necessitate bunk beds. I live in one of those rooms (note our breathtaking view), although, to be fair, the fact that my roommate and I have our own bathroom partially makes up for being cramped.  Then again, we also have to clean the bathroom ourselves and buy our own toilet paper, so it all evens out.

Suites here are really just individual rooms that share a kitchen (with two fridges – another plus) and are connected by a long hallway. As a result, Nussbaum doesn’t easily facilitate mass socializing. Every suite has a common room, but they tend to be unwelcoming and creepy – ours contains only two chairs and a TV that flickers like the videotape in The Ring. The washing machines don’t take quarters – in order to do laundry, you have to put money on a special card that your R.A. will hand out at the beginning of the year using a machine that only takes fives, tens, or twenties. For some reason, LaundryView doesn’t show which Nussbaum washers and dryers are in use; it can be pretty frustrating to get all the way to the basement before you find out that there aren’t any open machines.

Then there’s the ancient, stoop-shouldered man who sporadically shuffles into the lobby, sits on the arm of one of the couches, and stares for hours at the mailboxes that line the opposite wall. It wouldn’t be so bad if he didn’t smell so strongly of urine that the odor permeates the entire ground floor and remains even after he’s left. I guess this is the price you pay for a clean, conveniently placed dorm that straddles the line between on and off campus living.

– Hillary Busis. Photos by Alex Symonds.