University officials yesterday rolled out an $80 million plan to renovate the high rises over the next several years, starting this summer with Hamilton College House.
University President Judith Rodin will bring the Hamilton phase of the plan, which will cost Penn an estimated $26.5 million, before the Trustees today.
"We believe that we've come up with a very good solution for the relative short run with continuing thinking about the longer run," Rodin said yesterday.
The overhaul of Hamilton Village, including the intense repair of all three high rises, was announced in 1998 when the University unveiled a dormitory and dining renovation project at a total of over $380 million. The project, originally encompassing the demolition of Stouffer Triangle and the construction of two to five new dormitories in Hamilton Village, has faced significant delays and changes since then as the University has faced several financial setbacks.
If the proposal is approved by the Trustees, the renovations will be completed entirely during the summer months so that the University does not have to shut down any dormitories during the school year.
Repairs and renovations on the Quadrangle, which began in summer 2000 with a completion deadline of next summer, have also been done primarily during the summer months.
"A very important lesson we learned in the Quad is that it is in fact possible, but by no means easy, to renovate buildings without ever giving up the bed space during the school year," College Houses and Academic Services Director David Brownlee said.
The new plan calls for the three high rises to be renovated in succession, with two summers spent on each.
The proposed renovations for this summer include upgrading two of Hamilton House's four temperamental elevators, installing fire sprinklers in all student rooms, adding a new fire alarm system, repairing the building's time-worn concrete exterior and landscaping parts of Hamilton Village.
Residential Advisory Board Chairman Michael Portnoy said getting the elevators fixed was one of his top priorities.
"At the top of our list of concerns has been the elevator system in the high rises," the Engineering senior said. "We've received numerous complaints throughout the year."
In redoing the exterior of the Hamilton Village dormitories, administrators are aiming to "go after the high rises aesthetically as well as functionally" by "literally refacading the building," according to Vice President for Facilities and Real Estate Services Omar Blaik.
Officials also believe the area surrounding the high rises should be more aesthetically pleasing.
"It is a widely accepted and I'd say basically morally true judgment that the landscaping environment of Superblock is terrible," Brownlee said.
Under the proposed plans, the aim would be to extend the feel of Locust Walk into Hamilton Village.
In the second summer of renovations to Hamilton House, administrators want to convert space on the house's first floor and upper lounge, which is used for administrative offices, into space for student activities. Possible uses for the rooms are music practice facilities, office space and a computer lab.
The high rise houses the offices of both College Houses and Academic Services and Housing and Conference Services, which will be moved out of the building. It is not yet certain where these offices will be relocated.
Also on next summer's agenda for Hamilton House are upgrading the rest of the elevators, replacing windows, installing sprinklers and fire alarms in common areas, replacing furniture in student rooms and painting throughout the college house.
Although they have drawn up this list of proposed projects, administrators stressed the preliminary nature of their current renovation plans.
"What we know we will do right now is defined quite broadly," Brownlee said. "We don't have blueprints, we don't have drawings, there are no renderings to show you."
And Blaik said the renovations of Harrison and Harnwell college houses will be informed by how the Hamilton projects go.
"Based on [the] learning curve we will define the scope for the other two high rises," he said.
Facilities and housing administrators are also working on an overhaul of the University's troubled dining system, which will be unveiled in the next few weeks.
Daily Pennsylvanian staff writer Mary Clarke-Pearson contributed to this report.Comments powered by Disqus
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