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Renovations to the University-owned apartment building at 315 Thayer St. will result in 66 more on-campus beds by 2012, said Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services.

The renovations represent the largest expansion of the residence hall system since the opening of Vartan Gregorian Quad in 1991.

Though located on the northern end of the Pembroke campus — a predominantly freshman residential community — the new residence hall will likely house sophomores and juniors. Single and double bedrooms will be "clustered" along a central hallway, with a shared lounge and study space on each floor, Klawunn said.

The four-story brick building is currently part of Brown's auxiliary housing system. Its 32 student residents live in two- and three- bedroom apartments, paying about $750 in monthly rent, Richard Bova, senior associate dean of residential and dining services, wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. It is not now considered part of the on-campus residence hall system.

Preliminary plans for the new residence hall include the relocation of central stairways, opening greater flow across all four floors and allowing adequate egress for safety. As it stands, the stairways block access across floors, creating a tower-like feel, Klawunn said. The University does not rent rooms on the fourth floor due to a lack of exits.

Despite its current flaws, "the building has good bones,"she said. Construction is expected to begin this summer, President Ruth Simmons wrote in her Oct. 2 e-mail to the University community. Funding for the renovations was approved by the Corporation's Budget and Finance Committee at this weekend's meeting.

The project is just "the first to emerge" in a sequence of residence hall improvements the University will make as part of efforts to increase on-campus housing capacity and "desirable living spaces," Klawunn said.

On-campus housing is currently over capacity, with 75 undergraduates living in temporary housing, Bova wrote. Some current residents of 315 Thayer St. are undergraduates who moved from temporary on-campus arrangements.

The University will look to a combination of renovation and new construction not only to provide for the current demand, but also to increase capacity over the long term.

Administrators are considering limiting off-campus student life, recognizing the need for greater suite- and apartment-style living. "We are certainly … wondering whether it wouldn't be desirable to have more juniors living on campus," Klawunn said.

Housing improvements will focus on increased common lounge and study space, encouraging a community dynamic. Design priorities have changed over time, she said. When the majority of campus dorms were built, "people lived and studied differently. You would be more inclined to go to the library or to be using other spaces," Klawunn said, adding that students now prefer to study inside their dorms.

Klawunn pointed to dormitories such as the Graduate Center that she said would benefit from renovation. Grad Center could be reconfigured to allow for more natural light and common space. Planners and administrators are considering similar renovations to current dorms, but no finalized plans have been announced.




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