New House’s culture has changed due to renovation process, residents say
‘I am happy that we’re finally settled in this new space, but I‘m just really sad it‘s in my senior year,’ student says
The pre-existing culture of New House before its renovations has largely been lost, according to Burhan Azeem ’19, a four-year member of iHouse, a living group in New House, in an interview with The Tech.
There has also been a seven percent increase in first-year students in New House this year compared to 2016–2017, according to Connie Hemingway, communications manager, on behalf of Housing and Residential Services.
During the early stages of fixing the plumbing issues in New House in fall 2015, some residents were moved to the Hyatt Regency while others were scattered throughout on-campus housing and independent living groups.
After moving back into New House during IAP 2015, however, residents were forced to move out again in fall 2017 when New House experienced flooding due to maintenance issues. During this time, MIT determined that it was best for New House to undergo complete renovations.
When asked how he felt about the past few years, Azeem said, “I’m kind of just exhausted. I have had to move so many times, gone through so many buildings, so many areas… Having to resettle and trying to rebuild the culture in one semester only to have it destroyed the next semester... I am happy that we’re finally settled in this new space, but I’m just really sad it’s in my senior year.”
Azeem believes that MIT Housing did what it could given the circumstances — a number of New House residents were given a place in the Hyatt and were provided with a free meal plan — but he thinks that the communities of New House were greatly impacted.
The historic murals that once lined New House’s walls have been replaced with white walls. “[There were] murals from generations of people who had painted [them] and they were destroyed. We moved back in and we painted murals again one semester, but they were destroyed. Then we painted murals the following semester and they were destroyed, and now we are here and we can’t paint murals anymore,” Azeem said.
However, some houses were not as impacted by the renovations. According to Emmanuel Akinbo ’19, a member of German House, “the main effect that the renovations had was that we went from all living in singles to half of the house living in doubles.”
Some of the new features of New House are the first-floor arcade with a house lounge and connected corridors on upper floors. These new spaces have promoted interaction between the houses and the development of a new culture. “The houses are more connected. There is a lot more open space for people to intermingle… I think it’s well-poised to make the house more connected,” Emmanuel Akinbo ’19 said in an interview with The Tech.
“The facilities are definitely very appealing, especially since it’s a very new New House,” Susan Su ’22, a resident of French House, said in an interview with The Tech. “Being one of the only dorms with air-conditioning is a plus. I made a lot of friends just by hanging out in the lounge and doing psets.”
In an email statement to The Tech, Hemenway, on behalf of Housing and Residential Services, wrote, “The completion of the new Vassar Street residence hall will give MIT the flexibility needed to continue to address renovation needs in its residential system. No decisions have been made yet about which residence hall will be renewed following the completion of the new Vassar Street residence hall.”