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Dorm Renovation Is On Schedule

By May K. Tse

Renovations to Senior House - in the new central elevator pit shaft and near the back entrance of the building - will continue next week during Spring Break.

But because most residents will stay for at least part of Spring Break, no other major work will be completed, said Senior House President Christopher H. Barron '97.

The workers have been "good about working with us," Barron said. "I don't think residents have felt very inconvenienced, privacy-wise."

"As far as we know, we're on schedule," Barron said.

Senior House renovations were initiated last summer as a result of the Strategic Housing Planning Committee over a year ago. "But the lion's share of the work will be done this summer," said Phillip M. Bernard, staff associate for Residence and Campus Activities.

These are the first significant changes to Senior House since it was built in 1914. The $11 million renovations were funded through the Office of the Senior Vice President.

Director of Special Services Stephen D. Immerman explained, "The cost of servicing the debt will become a factor in the overall housing budget, not unlike how we built 500 Memorial Drive [Next House]."

Interior to be completely changed

"The outside appearance will be the same, but we're knocking out everything inside the building and leaving only the outside walls, floors, and windows intact," explained House Manager Daniel P. Conceison.

He continued, "We're complying with the American Disabilities Act to make the building accessible to someone with a wheelchair." Thus wider halls, bigger bathrooms, and the addition of an interconnecting, central elevator are features of the renovation plans.

In addition, the basement will be greatly changed as well. The basement was the only walkway that connected the six separate units of Senior House, but it will now be a student lounging area which will have a "more open concept," according to Conceison.

Other renovation plans were the direct result of student feedback. "Students meet with Shawmut Construction and Ondras Associates [the architects] every two weeks to get updates and get feedback. I think we've made a great impact. We've told them what we want and to a great extent they've listened," said Senior House Desk Captain Jagruti S. Patel '97.

When the renovations are complete, Senior House will be composed of ten doubles and 126 singles, some in suite settings. The occupancy rate will drop from 169 to 146 residents, since the interior will be entirely redone to accommodate building codes.

The renovations hold high expectations. "In the past, we've had a lot of sixth or seventh place choices in the housing lottery, but after the renovations, I think we'll have more first and second place choices because it'll be a brand-new building," Conceison said. "I don't know if it will change the types of people who live here, though."

All-female suites, floors suggested

With the renovations, new housing policies are being suggested. One of them is the possibility of making a wing of Senior House all-female to accommodate the large number of freshmen requesting all-female housing this year.

At the moment, though, the idea is just a suggestion, Bernard said. "No decision has been made yet regarding all-female floors, suites, wings, etc. We're tossing ideas around and trying to look and see if the population of women who come to MIT increases or remains the same," he said.

"It's purely speculative. If there ever is a decision, it probably won't be until the next few years. There's no plans for an immediate decision this year," Bernard said.

But Barron felt that arrangements could be made on the level of the room assignment chair.