Colleges deserve full-fledged renovation

A week has passed since the News reported that Calhoun, Ezra Stiles and Morse colleges have been added to the list of Yale residencies awaiting comprehensive renovations, and four months have passed since the administration contracted a preliminary design report. Bearing in mind this surprise — and the vague timetables provided by University officials — we argued that the design process must be more transparent than it has been in order to adequately incorporate student input.

This week, the completed preliminary report brought a new surprise to the campus’ attention — the administration had not merely considered, but sought to complete these major renovations during a summer or two. Obviously, such a scenario would be preferable on a couple of levels: Students would be able to immediately enjoy the newly refurbished dormitories rather than being displaced from them, and the University would be able to transform Swing Space into graduate housing — its eventual goal — that much more quickly. But these priorities are irreconcilable not only with the recommendations of the architectural consultants, but with the spirit that informed the renovations move in the first place.

Granted, Calhoun, Morse and Stiles have already received external repairs in recent summers, and thus may well avoid some of the most major undertakings of other college construction projects. But there is plenty of internal renovation to be done. Weak pipes and unpredictable heat need repair throughout the three colleges in question, and the report from perennial Yale renovations designer KieranTimberlake Associates suggested, not surprisingly, that the basements of Morse and Stiles in particular require a great deal of work.

Without long-term construction efforts, the colleges cannot accommodate both the required mechanical equipment and the proposed new student space. But if the purpose of these renovations is truly to minimize iniquities among residential colleges, then limiting those projects based on time constraints and relative difficulties of expansion negates their very purpose, suggesting that only certain colleges deserve perks ranging from movie theaters to squash courts.

Understandably, space constraints inherent in the layout of the colleges in question is greater and more frustrating than in others. But considering the novel ways renovations to the relatively tiny Trumbull College have been accomplished this year — from the conveyor out onto York Street to the series of cranes required to hoist equipment into the courtyard — we are confident that, given as much time as any other college, KieranTimberlake and Yale Facilities are more than capable of effecting the transformations that have already greeted Trumbull and most of Yale’s other undergraduate living spaces.

As the Yale Corporation prepares to decide on the scope of these new projects, we ask them to look not to the costs of this year’s work on Trumbull, but rather to the finished products 15-month renovation cycles have created. Otherwise, the end result of the University’s decade-long capital renovations project will be a campus where every residential college will have seen major improvements, but some more major than others.

Comments