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Vest Will Announce Architect For Planned Dormitory Today

By Kevin R. Lang
StaffReporter

President Charles M. Vest will select an architect for the new undergraduate dormitory today, Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow '72 announced.

The five candidates are internationally-renowned designers who specialize in dormitories and housing. One candidate, Charles M. Correa '55, is currently a visiting professor in the School of Architecture and Planning. Correa's firm is based in Bombay, and he has designed a number of campus residences.

The other candidates include Barton Myers & Associates, who recently designed a new dorm at the University of California at Los Angeles. Atlanta-based Scogin Elam and Bray Architects, Inc. worked on a residence at Tulane University and is being considered. Machado and Silvetti Associates of Argentina, who designed a new dorm at Princeton, and New York-based Steven Holl Architects, who designed the architecture schools at two universities are also in the running.

Bacow noted that a student and faculty committee will be forming soon to make final decisions for the new dormitory. In addition, the client team, which also has not yet been chosen, will visit recently constructed residences at universities outside the Boston area. Bacow hopes that the team will be able to evaluate some of the proposals currently being made for the new dorm.

Despite a number of public forums throughout the past months, no agreement has been reached on several major issues. The arrangement of rooms within the dorm has been hotly contested, as most students have expressed a need for small communities within the dorm. However, many fear that entry or floor divisions will lead to a fragmented community.

Dining deliberations not done

In addition, no consensus has been reached regarding dining. Jennifer C. Berk '01, co-chair of the Undergraduate Association's Committee on Housing and Orientation, said at a Wednesday forum on the new residence that many students favor a community dining hall that would attract non-residents to the dorm. However, students at the forum also hoped the new dorm would have kitchens, largely due to the limited hours and services offered by dining halls.

Kitchens were also supported by John S. Hollywood G, the graduate representative on the recent dining review. Hollywood cited safety concerns in support of kitchens, as students often keep hot plates and other appliances in their rooms. Others in attendance at the meeting cited cost and convenience as reasons for including kitchens in the new dorm.

Graduate involvement debated

Another issue under heavy debate is the involvement of graduate students and faculty with residents of the new dorm. Brian J. Schuler G of the Chancellor's Strategic Advisory Committee presented a report on "Residence 2001: An Integrated Residence."

The plan calls for apartment-style units for 10 faculty and 50 graduate students, event space that would attract members of the MIT community to the dormitory, and a physical design to maximize student-faculty interaction. However, others have lobbied for more traditional graduate resident tutor and housemaster arrangements.

Despite these disagreements, there has been consensus on some of the major housing issues. There is very strong agreement that crowding should be reduced as much as possible. Several students at the meeting hoped that the new dorm will be built large enough to end crowding altogether. "There isn't any excuse for admitting more students than we can house," said Jeremy D. Sher '99.

In addition, few students want a dorm consisting of all singles. Matthew L. McGann '00, co-chair of the UA Committee on Housing and Orientation, said that there is a strong desire for a mix of singles, doubles, triples, and possibly even quads.

Planner makes presentation

With only thirty people at the meeting, presentations largely displaced the public forum. The meeting began with a report on the October planning sessions by independent consultant RichardDober. MIT hired Dober, Lidsky, Craig and Associates, Inc. to collect information for planning the new dorm.

Dober presented a number of items on which agreement had been reached. According to Dober, the Vassar Street location across from Next House requires plans for connections to the main area of West Campus, as well as to all of MIT.

The new dorm should be a "21st century building" with regards to technology and media resources. Materials, components, and finishes should be high quality, especially with regards to lighting and ventilation systems.

Bicycle space was cited as a key issue at most of the previous forums. Dober stated that the new dorm should create a sense of security for residents, and that students should be able to be personalize their rooms.

In addition, hallways, staircases, and elevators should be arranged to promote interaction and communication. Bathrooms should have as much privacy as possible, and laundry rooms should be accessible and centrally located.

Dober also indicated that the new dorm should have sufficient storage space to avoid lounge clutter. The dorm should have the typical range of support spaces, and possibly even areas such as an Athena cluster, weight room, and dark room. Common spaces should have a full range of resources, including white boards and network drops.

Graduate student tutors should be placed throughout the dorm to promote interactions, and housemaster accommodations will be based on recommendations from current housemasters.

If the current schedule is followed, construction will begin in early 1999, with a projected completion date of summer 2001. Decisions based on the planning sessions will be finalized by December.