After 20 years, L-Dub undergoes renovation

Lanman-Wright entryways D, E and F, home to Pierson freshman, underwent renovations this summer.
Lanman-Wright entryways D, E and F, home to Pierson freshman, underwent renovations this summer. Photo by Sarah Eckinger.

After generations of complaints about living in a cockroach-ridden dorm, Pierson freshmen will finally enjoy a newly renovated Lanman-Wright Hall.

Lanman-Wright — which Yale spokeswoman Karen Peart called the “most in need of renovation” of any building on Old Campus — is in the midst of a $15.5 million facelift. Entryways D, E and F, home to Pierson freshmen, have undergone renovations this summer, while entryways A, B and C, which house Berkeley freshmen, are slated for completion by fall 2014. Though the renovations did not affect the timing of freshman move-in this year, the building was still under construction on Aug. 16 when freshman counselor orientation began, so the University arranged for both Pierson and Berkeley counselors to stay at The Study hotel for a week before moving into Lanman-Wright.

“It really needed renovation,” Provost Benjamin Polak said. “The stuff there was not in great shape. It wasn’t dangerous or anything — it wasn’t a safety thing — but it wasn’t to the same standard as other freshman dormitories.”

The decision to renovate Lanman-Wright was made by the Yale Office of Facilities, said John Meeske, associate dean for student organizations and physical resources. It is likely that the idea was raised during the University’s routine building assessments, noted Meeske, whose office had not been consulted about the project.

Polak said the costs of the renovation are being covered by “capital replacement charges” — standard funds allocated to every building. Each structure at Yale is on a renovation life cycle that dictates how often it should be refurbished, Polak explained, and Lanman-Wright Hall is due for its “midterm renovation” because it is halfway through its 40-year cycle.

Lanman-Wright Hall was last renovated in 1993, and all other buildings on Old Campus have been renovated since then, Peart said in an email to the News.

The project, led by New Haven-based architecture firm Apicella + Bunton, includes renovated entryways, replaced suite entry doors, and new common room flooring, electrical outlets and fire alarms, Peart said. Bedrooms have been repainted and now have new wood floors, curtains and furniture, she added.

“I don’t know why [Yale Facilities] chose to do the Pierson side first, but we’re very happy that they did,” Pierson Master Stephen Davis said.

Because of a “miscommunication,” many administrators did not find out about the renovations until the last minute, Polak said, so the renovations were not completed in time for freshman counselors, or frocos, to move into Lanman-Wright for the start of their orientation.

“[Frocos] have an incredibly busy schedule for orientation, and the alternative was to put them on another space on campus where they would have to negotiate a move-in in the midst of this week,” Davis said. “The priority for us was to make sure that the froco orientation was not disrupted, so that when the freshman came, they were given the care that they needed.”

Polak said that the mix-up with the froco move-in was “not the end of the world” but added that the University does not intend to make a habit of putting up students in hotels.

Though the brownstone exterior of Lanman-Wright was cleaned this summer, Peart said most of the exterior work will be done in 2014. The slate roof and six entryway doors will be replaced and new window screens will be installed. The brownstone will also be repointed — a process that involves removing damaged pieces of mortar from between the stones and replacing them with new mortar to keep the stonework sound and prevent water from seeping into the building.

Students interviewed were all enthusiastic about the renovations. Still, they said they look back on their time in the old “L-Dub” fondly.

“I lived in Entryway F as a freshman and loved it,” said Pierson freshman counselor Kasia Hitczenko ’14. “Sure, you’d hear stories of people showering in the dark because the light didn’t work or somebody’s door falling off its hinges, but when I think back on stuff like that, I laugh — I don’t cringe with disgust, and we didn’t back then, either.”

Rheaya Willis ’14 said she thinks “L-Dub” is the undergraduate dorm most in need of renovations at Yale, primarily because of its dark interior, drafty windows and outdated bathrooms.

While the living conditions in Lanman-Wright Hall may have made the experience a “mixed bag” in former years, Davis expressed hope that the renovations would not diminish the strength of the relationships that Piersonites typically form during their freshman year. Through living together in facilities that were “a little tighter,” he pointed out, students formed a special bond.

Ezra Stiles College was the last residential college to undergo renovations, which were completed in 2011.

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