New House to undergo two years of renovation with a staggered schedule

DSL is engaging other dorms and residents to plan for welcoming New House students

Planners from the Office of Campus Planning and MIT Capital Projects groups have recommended that MIT fully renovate and repair New House instead of rebuilding it, Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart PhD ’88 and Vice President of Student Life Suzy Nelson informed New House residents in an email Sunday.

A feasibility study carried out by the planners determined that rebuilding would result in significantly higher costs than renovation. A staggered renovation schedule, devised by Jag Patel, director of special projects in the office of the chancellor, will permit Houses 1 and 2 to remain open for the upcoming academic year, relieving some of the relocation pressure.

The Enrollment Management Group has determined that MIT will not need to lower the number of freshmen that it accepts to the Class of 2021 as a result of the partial closure of New House.

Houses 3 through 6 will undergo extensive heating and cooling system repairs, but repairs for House 3 will not take place while students are living in Houses 1 and 2. The renovation work will start in June 2017 and is estimated to end in August 2019. Each house will need two summers and a full academic year for reconstruction.

Current House 2 residents will move out at the end of the year, with German House and French House residents moving in for a year while their own residence sections, Houses 5 and 6, undergo construction. After Houses 3 through 6 finish renovation, work will begin on Houses 1 and 2.

“We’ve found a home for all these groups in New House. What we’re now working on with the matching is what kind of things should happen in the house that’s hosting New House which could make it a better experience for them,” said Nelson in an interview with The Tech.

The Division of Student Life has assured that they will be able to accommodate all New House residents based on the results from a survey that was sent around the dorm. Cultural houses and other living groups that wish to stay together are likely to remain together in their new dorms.

DSL has determined that there will be enough space in cook-for-yourself dorms, such as East Campus and Burton Conner, to accommodate all groups that wish to live in a cook-for-yourself dorm.

DSL is also willing to review, on a case by case basis, situations where students would like to stay with their friend groups in dining dorms but cannot afford a meal plan.

“We’ve been going around and talking to all the dorms to figure out what are the expectations and reasonable standards for any dorm,” Nelson added. “East Campus has fairly large singles [of over 180 square feet], but the thing that also has to be factored in is how many bathrooms, sinks, fixtures, graduate student apartments are there, things that we would say enhance the quality of life.”

The Architectural Principles committee previously determined that the 90 sq ft should be the minimum amount of room space allotted per student.

McCormick Hall will remain all-female, as mandated by its founding charter. The dorm will be expecting either small groups of female New House residents or additional freshmen.

DSL intends to offer improvements to dorms who take in New House students. Possibilities being considered include adding new GRT apartments, kitchens, and lounges.

Campus dorm representatives have created groups including the W70 New House Renovation Planning Group and the New Residences Working Group Committee to actively engage the MIT community throughout the beginning stages of this housing change. They are meant to facilitate relocation planning, identify areas for improvements as well as represent residents from various dorms.

DSL has requested that dorm heads of house and exec work with their residents in coming up with a preliminary plan for welcoming and accommodating New House residents around mid-November. Nelson hopes to be able to give New House residents a sense of their re-housing options before the Thanksgiving break.

Nelson commented on how “open and nice and kind” students have been in dealing with the situation, praising their willingness to “roll up their sleeves and think about creative ways to welcome New House students.”

More information about the logistics and general housing guidelines can be found in the Architectural Principles for MIT Undergraduate Residences report available online.