Five dorms renovated over summer

Five renovated dormitories greeted students when they arrived back on campus this fall. Blackriver Design, a construction company from Albany, N.Y., began work on Bryant and Mark Hopkins Houses (located in the Greylock Quad), Hubbell House (in the Dodd Quad), and cooperative houses Parsons and Sewell as soon as students left campus on May 23.

Renovations to Hubbell and Sewell were minor. More work was put into Parsons to convert it into a co-op, and extensive renovation was conducted on the two Greylock Quad houses.

According to Tom McEvoy, director of housing, the work done on Bryant and Mark Hopkins was “essentially a total rehab of [their] insides.” Their renovation alone cost around $6 million.

Improvements included a new fire alarm system, new carpeting, more bathroom space and better lounge areas. In senior suites, workers knocked out the wall between two small common rooms, creating one large common room. These new common rooms come with new appliance counters for microwave and blender use.

The buildings’ first floors have improved kitchens, new furniture and drapery and better lighting. Both buildings are now handicapped-accessible, and a ceramics studio and bike repair shop were added to Mark Hopkins.

Students played a large role in the renovation process. Blackriver Design architects in Montpelier, Vt., worked with a committee of five students and the College’s Buildings and Grounds (B&G) department to plan the renovations. An extensive survey of Greylock residents asked the students about changes they would like to see made to the buildings. The lighting on the first floors of the buildings – one of the major improvements in the renovation – was a primary complaint.

Completing the renovation before students returned in the fall was the greatest challenge. Although almost everything was finished as students were moving in, workers are still adding the finishing touches to some common rooms.

“[The] timing was absolutely monstrous,” said Bob Jarvis, manager of the renovation project. Slow deliveries and bad weather further lessened the tight schedule’s leeway. Bad weather loomed over the College all summer, with nice days rarely coming back to back, Jarvis said.

Many Bryant and Mark Hopkins residents enjoy their new and improved housing.

Ann Richards ’01, who lives in Bryant, said, “It was nice to come back and know everything was going to be new. Especially living here as a senior, it was a good trade-off.”

Pablo de los Santos ’03 said, “New furniture and the rugs really make the place feel homey, not like a dorm at all.”

However, not all students are pleased with all aspects of the renovations. Although she was generally impressed with the renovations, Brooke Smith ’02 said, “The whole kitchenette promise was a huge let down. What we have is more aptly characterized as a wet bar – no sink, no stoves, no oven.”

This year’s renovations are only the beginning, McEvoy said. Due to the success of the project, B&G has made plans for more student housing improvements. Major renovations are scheduled this summer for the other two Greylock Quad dorms, Gladden and Carter. Construction on Tyler House and Tyler Annex are planed for the summer of 2002. Although both projects will be under tight schedules, both B&G and Jarvis expect the work to be completed before students return.