With housing season in full swing, we present to you once again Bwog’s very own dorm reviews. This first one is for you, freshman!

Location: 562 W. 113th

  • Nearby dorms: McBain is a member of The Block. It shares 113th with Watt, Symposium, and 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. Oh, and the infamous Cardomat. Across the street is Nussbaum & Wu, Community, and Bon French Cleaners.  It’s hard to beat walking downstairs to Milano when it’s cold and rainy.  This is as close to John Jay as it gets for edible convenience.


  • $6,718, making it one of the cheapest non-freshperson dorms (tied with Wien, Schapiro, and Broadway).


  • 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. Which you may or may not be able to control, depending on how rusted over your radiator is. 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 TV 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 yields a high people/washers ratio.
  • Computers/Printers: There is a sizable computer lab on the first floor equipped with one NINJA printer. 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. It just might be enough for you to work off that daily Milano chick parm, but we make no promises.
  • Intra-transportation: Two elevators and a central stairwell.  The elevators are pretty dependable. The stairwell is pretty narrow.
  • 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, and rooms are slowly being renovated.

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: Almost no rooms are taken by juniors, but that may change this year with the introduction of junior regroup. In the past, a sub-1000 lottery number would put you in a good spot for a choice double in McBain.
  • 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, and snagging a spacious McBain double in junior regroup may even be preferable to Wien singles.

Resident opinions:

  • “Underrated, especially the upper floors”
  • “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.”
  • “My roommate and I had a decent lottery number and got one of the big rooms overlooking Broadway.  We have more than enough room for all our stuff and can easily host friends as there’s space for a big air-mattress.  Lots of our friends are nearby, which is great, and Milano is right downstairs, which is greater – especially when you’re in desperate need of a ginger ale and bread to, uh, rehydrate.  Plus we’re obsessed with our high ceiling and crown moldings.”
  • “It’s twisty.”
  • “Bathrooms are fine enough, although girls rooms are crowded and dramatic on weekend nights. There’s not as much vomit as everyone yells about. Two showers for all the girls on the floor would seem like too little but there are surprisingly seldom problems, although every so often you’ll have to wait for a free one. Kitchens are nicely sized however they do get crowded with only 4 burners on the stove for the whole floor. The ovens aren’t great—they tend to overheat—but work. Cleanliness depends on your floormates. Sometimes people will leave the counter a mess and take your pan, which sucks. Regardless it’s still convenient and useful.
  • “My ceiling is high! My room is big! We only had mice two times!”
  • McBain is officially one of the best party dorms in the nation. Who knew?


Photos by Elyse DeWitt and Alexandra Svokos