The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 40.0°F | A Few Clouds

Senior House renovated to meet new fire codes

By Eric Richard

From June 5 to Aug. 23 of this year, several entries of Senior House were renovated to meet new Cambridge fire codes. The major goals of the renovations were to give every resident easy access to emergency exits and to isolate stairways from possible sources of fire, said general manager of housing, maintenance and renovations Michael S. Mills.

Renovations included adding new doors to rooms which lacked nearby egress and converting those student rooms that blocked exit paths into common areas. Other changes included the installation of new exit signs and the addition of a battery backup system to provide electricity in the event of a power failure.

"While these changes in no way altered the external appearance of the residence, the interior has a greater amount of common space and has a much more well defined system of suites," said Mills.

Renovations caused Senior House capacity to fall from 188 to 169 people, Mills added.

During the addition of new exits, several of the murals in the dormitory walls had to be destroyed. But Mills said that special consideration was given to the walls containing murals. "Some murals simply weren't an issue. They had to be sacrificed in order to install doors. For the other murals, we walked through the entire building with a Senior House committee, asking them where they would prefer we put doors," he said.

In all, about six murals were lost or painted over.

Although the Office of Residence and Campus Activities did try to make special concessions for the murals, Mills said, "The bottom line was that the city dictated almost everything. MIT and the Senior House students had very little say in what changes were made," he said.

During the renovation planning stage, plans were hammered out between the city of Cambridge and MIT. The finalized plan represented the fourth proposal submitted by MIT that was ultimately approved by the city of Cambridge, Mills said.

The bulk of the changes were made in the Runkle entry. In addition to the changes made to meet the fire codes, all of Runkle was repainted. In other entries, only the regions affected by the changes were repainted.

At this point the housing office has not received much feedback on the changes. But Mills feels that the students will enjoy having more common areas than before.

Senior House Rooming Chair Beatrice L. Lin '93 said, "I've received a lot of positive comments about the changes. They have created a lot of common space, which is nice to have. A lot of people also like it because it has opened up a few more singles, and people like to have their own rooms."

Mills stressed that these changes are not to be considered renovations in that they did not add to the life span of the building. He hopes that within five years Senior House will truly be renovated, preserving its history and usefulness.

From June 5 to Aug. 23 of this year, the Housing and Food Service office modified several entries of Senior House in order to meet city fire codes.

The guidelines for the changes were set forth in a proposal issued by MIT to the city for its approval. The proposal which was used was the fourth such proposal offered by MIT.huh?

The guidelines for the changes were set forth in a proposal issued by MIT to the city for its approval. The proposal which was used was the fourth such proposal offered by MIT.huh?