Students returning to campus this fall were welcomed by bulldozers and temporary construction fences. Over the summer, renovations began on three mid quad dorms – Phillips, Berger, and Beckett.
According to Frank Perri, Claremont McKenna’s Director of Construction, the core of the construction plan was “the complete transformation of the bathrooms. The physical layout of the student rooms remained largely unchanged, except for the building code required inclusion of exterior insulation and double glazed windows in order to meet energy consumption requirements.” Alexandra Cooke ’14, the Residence Assistant (RA) of Phillips Hall, added, “The biggest difference is definitely the bathrooms. Everything is gender neutral now. There are ceiling to floor doors on the toilets and showers to ensure privacy.”
The construction is currently in the first of two phases. According to Perri, phase two will include renovating Marks Hall and Benson Hall in a manner similar to that of the other mid quad dorms. Phase one is expected to cost approximately $21 million and is on budget thus far.
Students living in the renovated dorms may have noticed that the construction is not yet complete. Despite having much of the infrastructure for air conditioning completed, the air conditioning itself is not yet up and running. “The residence halls are substantially complete,” Perri explained, except that ”the central plant, which supplies chilled water for the cooling systems, is not. Significant problems were encountered during the excavation for the central plant and main electrical service. These unknown conditions required a complete redesign of the electrical service and caused extensive rework to the secondary and emergency power feeds to Stark Hall, which was not a part of the project scope. We will have chilled water supplied to the residence halls no later than September 30, 2013, hopefully sooner.”
Other changes include new flooring. Gregory Hoffman ’15, a two-year Berger resident, explained, “Now there’s tile in the rooms and carpet in the hallways. It used to be the opposite way.” Cooke described the new hallway carpeting as “comforting and homey.”
Though most students are pleased with the changes, there was one repeated complaint. Said Hoffman, “There are no more screens on the windows. All the bugs can get in.” Cooke agreed that this was a problem, stating, “It’s a safety concern, especially for the lounges. It’s really easy for outsiders to access the lounges now.”
Another concern was the end of a tradition. Mid quad dorms, which used to primarily house freshmen, were not known as being the nicest places to live. Berger was previously nicknamed “The Dirty Berg,” and is now being called “The Gentrified Berg” by some. According to Cooke, “My experience at CMC was that these were the gross freshman dorms. A bit of tradition has been lost… The people who have lived there are going to miss it, because that’s what made it so special. That’s what made it unique. They embraced the dirtiness. There are also a lot more upperclassmen living here now.”
Overall, the construction has brought many welcome changes. Chad Tarpley ’15, the RA of Beckett, said, “I’m looking forward to Beckett having more space and therefore more people. I’m also just very excited to see how the new rooms turn out.” Cooke added, “As an RA, I’m happier living in a nice, new dorm.”
However, some residents were cautious about how the new dorms will be treated. Cooke said, “I really hope that students will be respectful of the new dorms, especially during TNC. I’m really concerned about the TV screens. I’m so worried that if we have TNC here, some drunk person is going to bash in the TV.”
Hopefully the AC will help people keep their cool.