History: Construction and Naming
Mendelsohn was the first quad constructed during Phase I of the original construction plans for the university. Stony Brook University officially opened on September 16, 1962, but it was not until January 21, 1964, that the dorms were given names, and even then, these names were only to be temporary, until the administrators could decide on permanent names. As such, the buildings were named based on how they were labelled on the architectural plans for the campus. The building that comprises Irving and O'Neill Colleges was labelled with a 'G' on those plans, and so Irving was given the name "G South" and O'Neill was given the name "G North". Ammann College was then named North Hall, while Gray College was named South Hall. The Quad as a whole took its name from "G Dorm", the combined name for G North and G South, and was called "G Quad".
In order to choose permanent names for the buildings, a "Name the Building Contest" was begun on December 17, 1964, but nothing came of this. In January of 1966, a committee presented to the Student Council a list of candidate names for the buildings which were considered "most favored" by students. The suggestions were Kennedy, Stevenson, Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt, Herb Lehman, Al Smith, LaGuardia, Einstein, Goethals, Schweitzer, Dag Hammarskjold, Linus Paulding, Karl Marx, and George Shaw. This list was ultimately rejected.
Finally, on September 20, 1967, the administration decided to name the buildings of H Quad, G Quad, and the newly constructed Roth Quad according to the theme of "Great Deceased New Yorkers". Thus, G North was renamed O'Neill College, after Eugene O'Neill, G South was renamed Irving College, after Washington Irving, North Hall was renamed Ammann College, after Othar Ammann, and South Hall was renamed Gray College, after Asa Gray.
Many years later, on April 20, 1994, a dedication ceremony was held in the inner courtyard of G Quad to honor former G Quad director and long-time Stony Brook employee Harold Mendelsohn, who had passed away two years earlier from a sudden heart attack. During this ceremony, a new flag was raised above the quad, a commemorative plaque and memorabilia showcase were placed in the lobby of O'Neill College, and the quad was given it's new name, Mendelsohn Quad.