Simmons To Open August 16By Eric J. Cholankeril
Simmons Hall will open on schedule for the fall, with the first residents to move in on Aug. 16.
“We will make it,” said Jonathan A. Himmel, project director for Simmons Hall construction. The first phase of construction on the dormitory, which encompasses the entrance and the second through 10th floors, will be complete by the time residents begin moving in.
Light safety work and finish work is proceeding this week, and furniture is being moved into the building, Himmel said.
“We’ll be able to start moving in by the end of next week,” said Simmons Hall President Vikash Gilja ’03.
“The elevators will all be operational,” Himmel said. Residents will be able to access the east elevators from the first floor. The central and west elevators will be accessible from the second floor, via a monumental stairway from the first floor.
Laundry machines will be available for fall residents in various locations on the second through tenth floors. “The first of many laundry locations will be operational next week, with the others to follow,” said Himmel.
Himmel said that workers were being paid overtime to ensure that the first phase of construction would be finished on time. “We’re trying to anticipate everything,” he said. “There may be some interesting moments, as with every new building.”
Himmel declined to discuss whether spending on the project had gone over budget, saying, “[the Institute has] funded the project as necessary to get it done.”
Himmel also said that a night security guard had been posted at the construction site after it was discovered that people had been wandering around the site.
Graduate dorm nearly complete
Michael K. Owu ’86, project director for construction of the graduate student dormitory at Sidney and Pacific Streets, said that construction of the other new dormitory opening this fall is “99 percent complete.” Owu said that the only work remaining was on “punchlist items,” such as patching and paint work.
Owu said that construction had gone “very smoothly” and that the project did not go over budget. He declined to disclose a figure for the budget.
Graduate student residents will begin moving into Sidney/Pacific on Aug. 23.
Simmons construction to continue
The second phase of construction on Simmons Hall, which includes the basement and most of the first floor, “is on schedule,” Himmel said.
While the reception desk, the east elevator, and the monumental stairway will be finished before residents move in, the rest of the first floor will be unavailable for the fall. The unfinished area includes a two-story lounge space, meditation room, meeting room, dining room, eating area, and public toilets. In the basement area, a multipurpose room and bike storage room will be unavailable. The mailroom “will be done on a temporary basis,” said Himmel.
Residents will have to live with ongoing construction, as the second phase is scheduled to be completed by December. “I think we can work it out with the project manager and the house manager so that it’s not too disruptive,” Gilja said.
Gilja said he doubts that the ongoing construction would lead freshmen to decide to lottery out of the dorm. “We’ve tried to make it very clear that the building is new and under construction,” he said.
Temporary dining arranged
Because the dining hall for Simmons is not yet complete, meals will be served in a temporary dining area on the second floor.
Dinners will be prepared by Bon Appetit, most likely at Next Dining, and then catered in, Director of Campus Dining Richard D. Berlin III said. While the dining hours have not yet been determined, the dinners will begin being served on Aug. 28.
Simmons residents will have a choice of a meat or vegetarian entree, as well as a choice of sides, salad, dessert, and beverages, said Berlin. “It’ll be similar to McCormick [Wednesday] dinners in a lot of respects,” except that meals will not be all-you-can-eat, Berlin said.
Lounge system proposed
The Simmons Hall house government is working to develop plans for a unique lounge-based social structure. Residents would be able to become members of certain lounges within the dorm, and funds would be allocated to the lounges for social events.
“The idea is inspired from the fact that a lot of dorms have smaller subcultures built in,” Gilja said.
Gilja explained that the lounges would be “non-geographic” and “not linked to your room,” and that lounges “could have different themes.” He said that themes that had been talked about included “an anime lounge” and cultural lounges.
“It’s more like a group of people with common interests,” said Gilja. [But] we really don’t know how it’s going to develop.”
“I think it’s cool that they’re trying it,” said Ricardo I. Rubi ’03, who will move into Simmons for the fall term. “The problem with allocating per floor is that some of the floors don’t have a communal area.”
The proposal will be put forward to residents and voted on in the fall term.