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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Grad renovations announced

Project to be completed by fall

Published: February 12, 2010
Section: Front Page

Makeover: A student approaches the Charles River Apartments, which the board announced will be remodeled over the summer
PHOTO BY Phil Small/The Hoot

The university board of trustees approved a “major renovation project” to the Charles River Apartments at their Wednesday meeting. The construction will take place over the summer with the aim of being completed in time for the 2010-2011 academic year.

The approximately $9 million project will revamp the 140 off-campus apartments’ kitchens and bathroom spaces, and will include new carpets, tiles, lighting, and a new heating system. A sprinkler system will also be put in.

Built in 1972, Charles River has long been lamented by students as one of the worst quads on campus, something Vice President of Capital Projects Dan Feldman said played into the decision to renovate the dorms.

“In recent years, students have made very clear that there are places they’d rather live over Charles River,” Feldman said. “An important factor is the conditions there. We’re very fortunate that the board has approved this. We hope the students will like what they see.”

While in previous years the Office of Facilities Services has focused on underclassmen dorms, renovating one building per year up until Fall 2009, this upcoming project is only the second effort to renovate housing for upperclassmen. Reconstruction of Ridgewood Residence Halls was the first effort and was completed in December 2008.

This new focus on upperclassmen residence halls is in part due to last spring’s announcement that the university intends to increase the student population by 400 students over the next four years. Because housing is guarenteed to freshman and sophomores, juniors and seniors were increasingly faced with the decision to either live in Charles River or move off-campus. More often they chose the latter, with 68 and 99 vacancies in the Charles River Apartments at the start of the Fall 2009 and Spring 2010 semesters respectively.

The upcoming project is the latest effort to keep on-campus housing updated.

Most recently, construction on the Ridgewood residence halls finished in December 2008.

Brandeis has already entered pre-construction of the Charles River Apartments. Administrators are in discussion with one company to help evaluate the costs of construction and are finalizing an agreement with an architect to provide drawings as the basis for the renovation. They have also renovated a model unit. Pictures of this sample are on the Brandeis community living website.

However, some details are still being pieced together. “We’re going to work all of those things out over the course of the next month and then we will go through a process to determine who’s going to do the construction,” Feldman said.

Charles River resident Elana Sandler ‘10 said the renovations are sorely needed.

“I think kitchen renovations are important. Not everybody has working stoves and fans, so it will cut down on fire alarms,” she said. “Thank god that they’re doing those.”

Ariel Wittenberg contributed to the reporting for this article.