University News

Miller, Metcalf to house first-year doubles

By and
Senior Staff Writers
Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Metcalf Hall will be renovated beginning in summer 2012, and renovations to the Graduate Center will begin in summer 2014.

Planning for next year’s housing overhaul is well underway. Administrators are moving forward with the creation of clustered first-year residential communities on Pembroke campus and in Keeney Quadrangle.

Existing singles in Miller and Metcalf halls will be converted to doubles to accommodate more first-years on Pembroke. Minden Hall and the Graduate Center are also slated for renovation during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years, respectively.

Renovations of the Sharpe Refectory are also “part of the master plan,” said Dick Spies, executive vice president for planning and senior adviser to the president.

 

Renovating residences

Renovation of Miller and Metcalf will begin next summer and should be complete by August 2013, said Stephen Maiorisi, vice president for Facilities Management. The work will be comprehensive, encompassing not only mechanical systems but also flooring, furniture, kitchens and bathrooms.

“Every aspect of those two buildings needs to be renovated,” said Richard Bova, senior associate dean of residential and dining services. He compared the renovations in Miller and Metcalf to those of the New Pembroke residence halls, which were recently overhauled as well.

The final configuration of rooms is still under consideration, and some single rooms will remain.

About 100 new beds will be added to the residential system next fall, partially compensating for the temporary loss of beds due to the renovations, Bova said. 315 Thayer St., which is currently undergoing renovation, will house 60 students, and 42 will live on the first floor of Wayland House after the Office of Residential Life moves to Grad Center. The closing of the Saunders Inn at Brown also created 46 new student beds in Vartan Gregorian Quad this fall.

Renovations may be scheduled so that Miller and Metcalf are closed during different semesters, Bova added.

 

Consolidated communities

The conversion of many singles to doubles in Miller and Metcalf will be a first step toward the University’s goal of creating first-year communities.

“Having a core where first-years live … allows us to provide services in unique and different ways for them,” Bova said. Original plans for the renovations were put on hold due to the economic recession, Maiorisi said.

With the creation of more first-year rooms on Pembroke, dorms like Perkins Hall that currently house first-years may be used for upperclassmen instead.

“Perkins is a unique facility,” Bova said. He suggested with a new room configuration, it could be used as upperclass housing — an idea that has also been discussed by the student Residential Council.

Alexander Zamudio ’12, who lives in a single on the first floor of Metcalf, said he initially opposed the plan because the Metcalf and Miller singles are prime options for upperclassmen. But he said he sees the benefits of a potential net gain of beds, which could limit temporary housing assignments. First-year students who would live in Metcalf and Miller would benefit from access to the Pembroke first-year community, Zamudio said.

General renovations to the residence halls would also be welcome, as Zamudio’s room is showing signs of age — the wall paint is peeling badly, and his window sticks when he tries to open it, he said.

Though Metcalf resident Kyle Wynter-Stoner ’13 thinks consolidating first-years makes sense, he said Metcalf and Miller provide quiet living spaces for the upperclassmen who need them.

 

Planning for the future

A complete construction schedule has not yet been worked out, but preliminary plans call for Minden to be renovated from summer 2013 to summer 2014, with Grad Center following from summer 2014 to summer 2015, Maiorisi said. Grad Center’s renovation could be phased so that not all towers are closed at once.

Minden “needs a complete overhaul,” Bova said. Due to a reconfiguration of rooms during the renovation, the residence hall would gain beds.

In Grad Center, the renovations would replace one single bedroom in each suite with a common room, making it “much more livable and much more desirable by students,” Maiorisi said.

Currently, Grad Center — constructed in 1968 — “does not effectively use space or create a sense of community,” Bova said.

The renovations of Miller, Metcalf, Minden and Grad Center are part of “a bigger strategic plan for residence halls,” Maiorisi said. Such a plan could potentially include the construction of new residence halls. In the past, sites that have been proposed include the parking lot next to Barbour Hall, the current location of East Side Mini-Mart and the parking lot behind 315 Thayer St.

Any project, if approved by the Corporation, would take several years to complete, Maiorisi said. “There’s no question about the need.”

There has long been interest and discussion among administrators and Corporation members about the possibility of new residence halls, but “everybody knows we’ve got to raise some money,” Spies said. Fundraising ability depends on whether or not donors “can be excited about residence halls.”

The University is “continuing to study it and think about alternatives,” he said, with an understanding that adding to the housing stock is necessary to reduce overcrowding.

More news about the University’s residential plans should be available after the Oct. 20-22 Corporation meeting, Bova said. He said the renovations were “absolutely not” a step toward increasing enrollment.

 

From bed to breakfast

Also important to residential life is the dining experience. While there are not yet official plans to renovate the Ratty, administrators have their eyes on such a project for the future.

There is broad agreement that the building needs “significant renovation” within the next several years, as its mechanical systems are “near the end of their useful life,” Spies said. Such upgrades will provide the University a great opportunity to overhaul the entire building, he said.

Bova evoked Verney-Woolley Dining Hall’s renovation as an example of what could be in store for the Ratty.

“Food is an important part of the residential experience,” he said. “The Ratty is an institution.”