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Studio renovations complete

By Mauricio Roman

After a month of work, the student-led renovation of the third floor of Building N52 was completed on schedule last week. Four architectural design studios are now housed in the renovated space, along with a lounge and two exhibition rooms.

Two architecture students, Albert F. Vallecillo G and Daniel B. Johnson G, were the project coordinators. They supervised a crew of more than 30 students and coordinated the work of subcontractors who laid down new floors and did electrical work.

The renovation also included the removal of walls, painting, and the installation of posterboards for "pin-ups" and reviews. The architecture department paid for labor costs, and MIT paid for materials and subcontractors ("everything else"), according to Professor William L. Porter PhD '69, chair of the department.

The master plan for the renovation was chosen from student designs by a joint faculty-student committee. "The plan came from Chris Falliers [G]," Vallecillo said, "but a lot of the people who were doing the work actually designed the details."

Keeping the integrity of the project together while at the same time allowing dozens of people the freedom to try out new ideas was an interesting process, Vallecillo added.

Renovation worker Mark S. Daley G confirmed that "there was a spirit of cooperation, not only among students but also shared by the subcontractors."

"The transformed space is friendlier not only because of its openness but because there is now a stronger sense of community," said Roy C. Robinson G, who has been working in N52's third floor since September. "There is a better attitude because students were given an opportunity to contribute to making the space their own," he added.

The conditions before the renovation were very poor, according to Daley. "Some rooms were used as storage, and probably had not been cleaned in 20 years. Walls were brown, there were dangling wires, and one half of the drop ceilings were up and down," he said.

Student-led projects are a viable way for the department to afford renovations, Vallecillo believed, and he hoped that students will have a chance to coordinate another project next summer. A possible choice is to make a rooftop deck for building N52, he said.

Department divided

between two buildings

Both architecture students and professors are concerned about the department being divided between the main Institute buildings and N52. Last term three meetings were called by students to discuss problems faced by the department, among which was the issue of its physical division. The students recommended to Porter and Jean P. de Monchaux, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, that all design studios be housed in the same location by September 1990.

Architecture studios had been housed in the same place until last year when "the absolute number of students had grown beyond the capacity of the available space at the main Institute buildings," de Monchaux said in December. Because of this, a large number of students was moved to available space in building N52 last fall, he added.

"The close proximity of all levels of the design program permitted a large amount of TA-student interaction," Lambert T. DeVoe '91 said last term, since "in <>

one community there is more to gain from our educational experience."

Most students believe, however, that during the near future Architecture at MIT will remain a split school.