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Plans to Renovate Sr. House Discussed

By Ramy A. Arnaout
Executive Editor

In the latest in a series of weekly meetings, residents and administrators met last night to discuss plans for major Senior House renovations.

Announced last fall, the $912 million renovations will have important implications for Senior House residents.

"We plan on gutting the whole house and starting from ground up," said newly elected Senior House President Samuel L. Johnson '96, who attended last night's meeting.

One fundamental change will be in the floor plan, which will have to be completely reworked in order to make the dormitory handicapped-accessible, Johnson said. The new plan will probably include long halls and a central elevator, he said.

Not all residents welcome the proposed change, Johnson said. "There's a lot of people who like [Senior House] just the way it is now. A lot of people live here because it's not neat, fresh, sanitary," he said.

"That's one of my concerns - that it's going to be like a hotel, with long halls and uniform rooms," Johnson said. The change would be acceptable "as long as I can work out a way to preserve" the unique Senior House atmosphere, he said.

But that negative reaction is by no means universal among dormitory residents. "A lot of people are apathetic, but a lot of people are psyched that it's going to be new," Johnson said.

"I haven't heard of any major discontent," said former Senior House Secretary Jacob M. Harris '97, who is also involved in the discussions. "There are no actual schematics drawn out yet and everybody seems willing to work with each other to get things to work out."

Other basic changes will include updating Senior House's dated ventilation, heating, and electrical systems, Harris said.

"The building has been here since almost the beginning of the century," said Harris of the 82-year-old dormitory. "It's not really falling apart, but it's not really brand-spanking new."

Timetable set

The weekly meetings have given residents and administrators the chance to work in concert in the planning and decision-making process behind the renovations, Harris said. "We're working with the administration," he said. "Things have been going pretty well so far. We'll soon be at the stage where we'll be hiring architects."

"We have some pretty major input [about] what we want," Johnson said.

At last night's discussion, residents and administrators considered which contracting firm and architect to bring in, Harris said. Interviews will take place next week, he said.

So far, work on the renovations is proceeding on schedule, Johnson said. Initial investigations are currently underway to try to figure out how much asbestos there is in the building. Asbestos removal is slated to take place this summer.

Contracting crews will spend next fall amassing the materials needed to undertake the renovations, Harris said.

Actual construction is set to start next summer, so that no residents will need to be moved out of their rooms due to construction, said Jason W. Solinsky '95, who is involved in renovation discussions.