A visitor walking through Burton-Connor or MacGregor a month ago could be excused for not recognizing the buildings now.
Then, these buildings were a hive of activity from the basement to the roof as workers installed new hot water and fire systems, removed asbestos, and renovated roof parapets and facades. But when MIT’s students returned this week to move back into the dorms, the scale of the effort was practically invisible.
“We made vital improvements to these buildings that will have a real benefit for the residents,” said Director of Housing Dennis Collins. “But since most of this work took place in mechanical rooms, on roofs, and behind the scenes, the results may not be obvious to students.”
In all, Housing oversaw nearly $5 million of renovation and repair in four buildings that were closed for the summer: Bexley, Burton-Connor, MacGregor and Random. The renovations, which were a collaborative effort between Housing and the MIT Facilities, included:
- Improved heat and hot water systems for Burton-Connor and MacGregor;
- New fire alarms, smoke detectors, and sprinklers systems in MacGregor;
- Rebuilt parapets, as well as repair and re-pointing of masonry, for Burton-Connor; and improved rooftop waterproofing on Burton-Connor and MacGregor;
- Asbestos removal in Burton-Connor, MacGregor, and Random;
Some work occurred in living areas, such as 63 new showers and more than 30 new sinks in student bathrooms in Burton-Connor; new washers and dryers, 10 new showers, and carpet replacement in 45 rooms in MacGregor; and a thorough cleaning from top to bottom in all buildings at a scale that has not been possible in previous summers when these residences were occupied.
Seniors Christina Johnson, the Dormitory Council president; Vrajesh Modi, the Undergraduate Association president; and Megan Roth, Dormitory Council vice president, toured the buildings with Collins this week. “I could see that it was necessary to close these buildings,” Johnson said. “It would not have been possible for students to be living in the dorms and still be able to accomplish what was done.”
The renovations also offered significant improvements for Housing’s operations, according to Collins. For example, in MacGregor, crews installed shut-off valves in radiators in all student rooms, lounges, and GRT apartments; now, Housing can conduct spot repairs without having to turn heat off for the entire building. The new fire system in MacGregor makes the building much safer for residents, and installing a new water system in Burton-Connor while keeping the old one in place as a backup will ensure uninterrupted service.
The closing of these four residences — Bexley, Burton-Connor, MacGregor and Random Hall — was part of a new system for utilizing summer housing stock that was developed according to a charge from the Institute-Wide Planning Task Force. The Dean for Student Life and the Housing Office worked in close collaboration with the Dormitory Council, the Undergraduate Association and Housemasters to review summer housing and develop the new system.
Closing the buildings expanded the hours and days that construction and renovation crews were able to work, so large projects could be tackled start to finish within a single summer. MIT also realized savings through reduced utilities and staffing costs.
Housing will continue to work with student leaders and Housemasters to ensure that the community understands the new policies and that the summer housing system is as accommodating as possible for undergraduate students and guests.