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[Jackie Hayward/The Summer Pennsylvanian] Williams Hall, home to the language programs at Penn, is currently being renovated as part of the annual summer construction on campus.

Amidst the construction projects going on at Penn this summer, two buildings that house departments primarily in the College of Arts and Sciences are quietly receiving facelifts -- Williams Hall and Bennett Hall.

Williams Hall, the home of Penn's language departments as well as teaching facilities, has just received a $3.5 million renovation that provides for upgraded air conditioning units, window repairs and exterior masonry repairs, among other things.

"Williams Hall is in essence complete," said University Managing Director of Design and Construction Management Mark Wilson. "There are some minor punch list items left to do."

The next project on the agenda for the College of Arts and Sciences is a renovation of Bennett Hall -- built in 1924 and currently home to the English department, among others.

"We hope to start construction some time in July, with asbestos abatement and then demolition work," Wilson said.

The building is slated to receive window replacements and air conditioning upgrades, as well as layout changes.

Facilities will be "relaying the building out to better suit the needs of the inhabitants," Wilson said.

The renovation will be more extensive than the one done on Williams Hall, costing an estimated $16.4 million and lasting until August of 2005.

Bennett and Williams Halls are just two of the many historic buildings on campus that can require an increased amount of maintenance.

"There is a lot of need across the University, and we try to deal with the [buildings] that are most egregious first," Wilson said.

A few weeks ago, the departments began moving back in to Williams Hall. The departments of Germanic Languages, Romance Languages, Slavic Languages, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, South Asia Regional Studies and Linguistics are now settling into their familiar and updated homes.

Reactions among the occupants were positive, but not overwhelmingly so.

"It's more comfy and there's more light," said Lucy O'Connell, an administrative assisant in the Slavic department.

David Stern, a professor of Hebrew literature and chairman of the Jewish Studies program, pointed to a garbage can collecting water on top of his bookshelf.

"It's a lot nicer than I expected, but I still have a leak," he said.

"There is qualified happiness and gratitude," said Kevin Platt, the chair of the Slavic department. "It's a good intermediate-term fix."

"Before, [the building] was uninhabitable," he added.

Still, one professor called Williams a "horrible building."

"Most people don't have a lot of confidence that the building will make it through the school year."

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