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Summer Construction Continues Well into R/O Week

Wan Yusof Wan Morshidi -- The Tech
Senior House construction continues into R/O week, angering residents.

By Douglas E. Heimburger
Associate News Editor

An unusually high amount of summer construction in MITdormitories has spilled over into Residence and Orientation Week, wreaking havoc and angering some residents.

At Senior House, Shawmut Design and Construction was scheduled to finish major construction on a new portico and grand entrance by 5 p.m. yesterday, said Ronald J. Catella, a project manager for Physical Plant who oversees the project.

"It's very close to done,"Catella said. "As far as accessibility and usability, everything will be okay."

Earlier in the summer, construction closed both entrances to Senior House, forcing residents to either prop open a loading dock or not gain entrance to the dormitory, according to Senior House President Victor P. Moralez '98.

"You couldn't win: either it was open and there was some security hazard or it wasn't and you couldn't get into the house,"Moralez said.

However, administration officials said that the problems were not serious. "Those particular things probably happened for only times of five or ten minutes,"said Senior House Manager Jack Ahern. "It's not like you're going for hours on end and not being able to get in."

Problems plague renovations

A steam line under the sidewalk in front of Senior House was found to be in poor condition, forcing contractors to replace it as part of the project, Catella said.

As a result of the steam line replacement, the project was delayed almost two weeks, said Carl A. Jay, project manager for Shawmut.

Communication between Senior House residents and the construction company also disintegrated over the summer, Moralez said. "Originally, we were given a very definite plan" for which entrances and exits would be closed.

However, eventually residents had to search for which exits and entrances were available. "They didn't live up to even the most minimal standards"of communication, Moralez said.

"We met with the students on Monday and got a list of their concerns" about the construction, which are now being dealt with, Jay said.

After all students return in September, they will be invited to look for construction workmanship problems to be fixed. The students will then have a meeting to address "the quality of the workmanship,"Jay said.

The Department of Housing and Food Services also attempted to encourage as many residents as possible to move out from Senior House during the reconstruction, Ahern said.

Those remaining chose to stay despite the inconveniences of the construction. "There were many meetings and this was clearly spelled out,"Ahern said.

Construction occurs elsewhere

As part of a major program of renovation and reconstruction, work at other dormitories has also lasted into R/Oweek.

At New House, construction of a new dormitory desk began about three weeks ago, according to Jeffry S. Kahle '98, desk captain.

Currently, when residents come in the front door one hallway is "entirely blocked off with walls surrounding the construction site."

The new desk is currently scheduled to open Monday, Kahle said. "This is one of the worst times" to move the desk because of the presence of temporarily housed freshmen in the dormitory, she said.

Originally, the construction was scheduled to start at the beginning of the summer, but was delayed, said Chris Nolan, general manager of maintenance and renovation for Housing and Food Services. "A lot of it was finding funding to do it, then finding an architect to do it" before construction could begin.

The construction is now ahead of its revised schedule, Nolan said.

At MacGregor house, contractors are replacing the patio due to a history of leaks beneath it. Construction there will continue into September due to changes in the initial specifications, Nolan said.

Other renovations include a new roof on East Campus, scheduled to be completed next week, a new roof on Ashdown House, and a recarpeting project in Random Hall being finished this week.

"We don't make students move out of their dormitories unless they're gutted," said Director ofProject Development Stephen D. Immerman.

Overall, "I think it's gone very well,"Nolan said. "We do want to get finished, but it's like this every summer."