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McDermott Building Plan Altered

Students, Facilities Agree to Move Construction off Grassy Area

By Matthew Palmer


Following a meeting between the Department of Facilities and concerned students, plans to construct temporary office buildings on McDermott Court have been altered to move the buildings off the green.

The plans now call for a block of 10 temporary faculty offices (TFOs) to sit at an angle on the pavement between Building 18 and the Great Sail. As long as project manager Thomas Phelen receives approval from the city of Cambridge, construction will begin one week from Monday.

While the students who attended the meeting were generally pleased that “The Dot” would remain open, they were disappointed that the unsightly construction will be near the Great Sail sculpture and the lawn.

The new location of the building “was a compromise,” said Geeta Dayal ’01, the organizer of Monday’s protest against construction on McDermott. “It’s not fair to the sculpture.”

Jeremy H. Brown G said that the original planners did not properly consider the effects of the construction on student life.

“We presented [the students] with two options ... at an angle or on the grass,” said Department of Facilities Communications Manager Ruth T. Davis.

Chemistry personnel need to be able to move between the trailers and their Building 18 labs easily, said Chemistry Administrative Officer Marc B. Jones, who attended the meeting. The trailers do not have restrooms.

Setup of the TFOs will take a few days. Davis said that the goal is to have them “presentable by commencement.”

Fire and disabilities regulations require the TFOs to be away from other buildings and to have a ramp. Both conditions will force the trailers to be moved closer to the sculpture.

Facilities late to address concerns

“I only wish we knew about this months ago,” Dayal said. She added that Facilities should be more in touch with students. Plans are currently underway to hire a communications coordinator for the facilities department, which should alleviate the problem.

The construction “will be an inconvenience to everyone, not just the protesters,” Jones said. He added that MIT will have to upgrade its infrastructure if it wants to remain a world-class institution.

Brown believes that students will be more understanding inconveniences if they’re brought into the decision making process earlier.

Updates due to code changes

The TFOs will serve as office space for three years while the chemistry labs are renovated.

Changes are needed to bring the facilities up to code, to install sprinklers and more fume hoods, and to move students’ desks away from lab benches to minimize their exposure to chemicals.

Laboratories will need to consolidate and some will move into current office space, forcing the offices to relocate into trailers. Jones said the space in the TFOs will be much less than what is needed.

“This was a good learning experience” about how to deal with student concerns, said Davis. Related stories:

Student Opposition Halts Death of Dot
April 25, 2000