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Renovations at Baker Force Alternate Rush

By Rima Arnaout

As the $24 million renovations to Baker House approach completion, residents of Baker House must grapple simultaneously with moving back into their rooms and rushing incoming freshmen.

Baker’s doors will open officially at 7 a.m. on Monday, according to Senior Project Manager Susan R. Personette. Baker residents will be able to move in then, and Baker rush staff are planning to give tours to incoming freshmen over the weekend.

Students working on Baker rush this year have set up a tent near Kresge Auditorium to function as rush headquarters until the building is opened. “The tent will be Baker until Monday,” said Saumil J. Gandhi ’02 , a Baker rush chair. “All of the events that go on in the Daily Confusion will be run from the tent,” Gandhi said.

Construction hampers Baker rush

Because the renovations at Baker were not scheduled to be complete until Monday, incoming freshmen were not assigned temporary housing at Baker.

Arian Shahdadi ’02, another Baker rush chair, said, “None of us have access to Baker right now,” but “we will be giving several tours this weekend.” Two will be held on Saturday and three on Sunday, and full tours start Monday.

The weekend tours are timed, added Pavan K. Gupta ’01, a Baker resident involved with rush. “These are timed tours listed in the Daily Confusion,” Gupta said. On Monday, “we’ll be giving as many tours as possible,” he said.

By the time freshmen are able to tour Baker on a normal basis, with residents already moved in, residence rush will already be two days old, having started with Killian Kickoff on Saturday.

Baker rush volunteers are preparing for the logistical problem of having to move in while conducting rush tours. “We’ll try to get people who can move in quickly to move in quick... it’s about getting certain rooms set up as quickly as possible, in order to start tours,” Gupta said.

Rush numbers expected to be high

Some Baker students are concerned that rush will be adversely affected because freshmen won’t be able to explore Baker as thoroughly as they will other living groups.

“I would say the work has been detrimental to our rush work since we haven’t had the chance to interact with freshmen temped at Baker. Also, we aren’t really able to let people get a ‘feel’ for Baker without having access to the dorm,” Shahdadi said.

Some Baker residents are afraid people will choose Baker because of renovations, which could be a mistake. “We expect the numbers [of freshmen choosing Baker] to be up, but we’re trying to convey the message as best we can that Baker’s about the people, not the building,” Gandhi said.

“Baker is a very social dorm... the last thing we want is for people who would be happy at another dorm or living group to choose Baker because we’ve been renovated,” Shahdadi said.

Renovation caused crowding

The renovations also made the logistics of housing more difficult. Since “we usually have 100 to 120 students that temp at Baker, it was difficult to actually make sure we had room for the freshmen temps in the other nine residence halls,” said Phillip M. Bernard, program director at the Residential Life Office.

Bernard also had to find space for the 60 early return students that normally would have been housed at Baker.

Despite the inconveniences caused by the remodeling of Baker House, students are pleased with the improvements. “We’re happy that the infrastructure at Baker has improved,” Gupta said. “I don’t think thing anybody ever liked ‘Baker Ooze,’” he said, referring to when plumbing would get stopped up.

Baker has a distinguished history

Residents had to clear out of Baker in late May to make way for contractors, who have been busy remodeling the upper residential floors of the dorm. Baker Dining has also been closed all summer.

This is the second summer of construction for Baker. Last summer, workers rebuilt the dorm’s common areas, including the dining room, kitchen, weight rooms, and study spaces. Improvements were also made to the building’s water and electrical systems. These renovations were finished in time for freshmen to be temped at Baker during rush.

Baker House was designed in 1947 and completed in 1949 by Finnish architect Alvar Alto and is one of two buildings he designed in North America.

A rededication of Baker House is planned for this September, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the building’s completion.