Silli-renovation stays on course

Silliman College, the youngest of the 10 original colleges, will be buzzing with activity this summer as scores of workers labor to complete its renovation before the beginning of the academic year.

So far, the project is on schedule and on budget, with students expected to move in at the normal time next fall, facilities officials said Monday. While residential college renovations have typically taken 15 months total, Silliman — the largest college — has been under the knife on and off beginning three years ago. Silliman students said they look forward to returning to a revamped college next fall, particularly in light of their living situation this year in Swing Space, but some said they were disappointed with the planned changes to suites in the college.

Renovations to Silliman College, which has been closed for the past year, will likely be completed in time for the next academic year.
Chris Young
Renovations to Silliman College, which has been closed for the past year, will likely be completed in time for the next academic year.

The project is approximately 70 percent finished, project manager Jeffrey Brown said. Though the large college does not need a major addition as several other colleges did, some structural changes were in the plans and have mostly been completed, he said. Work over the summer will focus on putting the finishing touches on Silliman, including plastering, painting and refinishing floors. Extensive changes have been made to student activity spaces in the basement, and the Silliflicks movie theater is moving to a new space with new equipment. Space for these expansions was created by a more efficient use of the lower level of the college, an area that was previously used for storage, senior architect and planner David Yager said.

Silliman was created in 1940 by integrating several existing buildings with new construction; its renovation has similarly been an amalgamation. In the summer of 2004, the University replaced roofs and windows and prepared the roofs to accommodate new residential space in the previously unused attics. The following summer saw a full renovation of two entryways, but the bulk of the renovations began last May. Yager said earlier college renovations helped planners better understand what students wanted out of the overhauls and helped them better integrate the new mechanical systems being installed.

Silliman students said they are particularly looking forward to having their dining hall back. Living in Swing Space, which does not have its own dining hall, has been a struggle for some.

“There isn’t a central location for everyone to meet up daily,” Brett Andrews ’08 said.

But some students said they are not looking forward to all the changes awaiting them next fall. Dave Rawson ’08 said students are excited about moving into a college with refurbished and expanded facilities, but that excitement has been tempered by changes being made to the residences. Previously, seniors looked forward to three-room doubles consisting of two single bedrooms and a common room, but the number of those rooms will dwindle to a handful when the renovation is completed. Even though other larger suites of singles will be available, Rawson said the change is disappointing.

“The bigger suites are good for the social aspect, but it cuts down on personal space,” he said.

The changes to suite configurations were part of efforts to improve fire escape routes by giving each suite two means of egress, Yager said.

Though new rooms are being added to the attics, the total number of beds in the college will remain the same since Silliman is already so large, Brown said.

Next year, Jonathan Edwards College will be renovated, followed by Calhoun — which had a partial renovation 15 years ago — Ezra Stiles and Morse Colleges.

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