Location: 562 W. 113th

  • Nearby dorms: McBain is a member of The Block.  McBain shares 113th with Watt, Symposium, Nussbaum.  Hogan and Broadway are one block North.
  • Stores and restaurants: Right above a Chase ATM, Deluxe, Milano Market, Campo Il Cibreo, and Oren’s.  Across the street is Nussbaum & Wu, Community, and Bon French Cleaners.  It’s hard to beat walking downstairs to Milano when it’s cold/rainy.  This is as close to John Jay as it gets for edible convenience.


  • $6,718.  Cheapest non-freshperson dorm.


  • Bathrooms: Each floor has one male and one female hall bathroom.  They vary floor to floor in size and location.  Generally, the lower floors have worse bathrooms.
  • AC/Heating: McBain does not have AC, but it has heating.  Not that you will need the heat, if you are in the shaft..
  • Kitchen/Lounge: Every floor has a kitchen/lounge combo equipped with a stove, microwave, full sink, flat screen with cable, table and Columbia’s typical grey plush lounge chairs.  The size and quality of the kitchen appliances varies by floor, but the second floor definitely has the most spacious lounge.
  • Laundry: The 2nd through 5th floors have two washers and two dryers each.  Sometimes it can be a pain to use the laundry room because the lack of washers and dryers on the higher floors yield a high people/washers ratio.
  • Computers/Printers: There is a sizable computer lab on the first floor equipped with one NINJA printer.  Watt, Nussbaum, McBain and the Brownstone depend on this printer as their most convenient location, so there can be lines right before class times, and the damn thing is broken half the time.  There are rumors that CUIT is installing a second printer in McBain.
  • Gym: McBain has a few treadmills and a few elliptical machines on the first floor.  They seem to be in good condition, and there is never a line.
  • Intra-transportation: Two elevators and a central stairwell.  The elevators are pretty dependable.
  • Wi-Fi:  Wi-Fi and ethernet.
  • Hardwood/Carpet: Some rooms have carpet and some have wood-imitation linoleum.  There doesn’t seem to be a consistent pattern that would explain the disparity.


Room variety:

  • (Line numbering is inconsistent in McBain, so we’ll refer to the lines as they appear on the 8th floor)
  • Doubles: range in size from the 180’s to the 260’s.  Choice lines are ’20 – ’28; especially ’22 (which is genuinely huge).
  • Singles: There are a mix of singles on the 2nd and 3rd floor that vary in size comparable to John Jay.   The ’18 line of singles is on every floor, but otherwise only the RA and the rider get singles above the 3rd floor.


  • Choice Doubles: Last year, room 822 went to a duo of Juniors with a housing number of ~2200.  It went well before a good part of Watt.  The good news (for sophomores) is that only 4 doubles went to Juniors last year.  You need to land somewhere before 1000 to be in the hunting for a choice double in McBain. That’s about a liberal 30% chance for rising Sophomores.
  • Singles: Will go to a mix of super-unlucky Juniors and maybe a few lucky Sophomores.  General selection is just hard to predict (especially with the conversion of singles into doubles that is happening in other dorms). :/
  • Otherwise, even sophomores with pretty bad numbers will have many options in McBain.

Bwog recommendation:

  • Rising Sophomores could do well to resign to the fact that they are probably going to live in McBain next year.  It’s not that bad, really!  Group up with some friends, and there is a pretty good chance that ya’ll could live on the same floor.
  • For Juniors, the huge doubles with great views of Broadway are a superb back-up plan if Watt falls through.

Resident opinions:

  • “My roommate and I got screwed over with our lottery number last year, and we weren’t too happy to pick into the SHAFT of McBain.  But as it turns out, our room is huge (264 sqft) so we have enough room to put in a full-sized couch and coffee table.  The view can be depressing (and interesting) but nothing beats the short distance to Milanos and Nussbaum.  Overall, I’d say that I was pleasantly surprised considering the bad rap that McBain gets. Our Room!
  • “Though McBain may have the stigma (or the honor, depending on how you look at it) of being the ‘Sophomore Carman,’ it’s really not a bad place to live, especially if you live on one of the renovated floors. Some doubles are positively spacious, but even living in the shaft isn’t the end of the world. If you pick into McBain through suite selection, it’s likely you’ll live on a floor with many of your friends and walking distance from most Morningside Heights food options. And, given the arbitrary nature of Columbia University housing, that’s really all you can ask for as a sophomore.”
  • “The bathrooms are super gross.  Location be damned, I don’t like waking up to take a shower in a dirty bathroom that is frequently vomit-scented.”
  • McBain is officially one of the best party dorms in the nation. Who knew?


Photos by Elyse DeWitt