Weigh in on House Renovations
plans were finalized for this summer’s
renovations of Lawrence and Morris houses, administrators
in Student Affairs and Facilities Management consulted with
one important group: students—those who would be living in
Rebecca Shaw, director of residence
life, asked house presidents to organize a special tea in
the spring and the house residents were informed of the new
plans for their temporary domiciles.
Lawrence House residents settled on a light green tone
for the living room walls.
In Morris House, the sister of Lawrence, residents chose
a light blue tint.
“It was really nice to be able to give our input,” said Emma Thomas ’10, Morris
house president who spent four years there. “The fact that we were allowed to
voice our opinions and questions, and that input was allowed, definitely made
me feel better about the major changes happening to my house.”
Though much of the renovations
have addressed behind-the-walls issues such as upgrades to
electrical wiring, installation of a central air supply system,
addition of insulation, and replacement of the steam heating
system with a digitally controlled hot-water heating system,
many aesthetic changes are also taking place.
windows are being replaced on both houses with more efficient
units, surfaces are being refinished, bathrooms are being
redone, and walls repainted.
“The presentation given at that tea gave the impression that careful thought
and consideration had been given to the renovation process and insuring that
the house remained a house that we would feel comfortable inhabiting,” said Beatrice
Chan ’10, a 3-year Lawrence resident and president of her house last year.
color of paint in their houses is one area in which students
voiced their opinions.
Students of both houses were
given a choice of color schemes with which to paint the houses’ interiors and parts of the exteriors, such as the porches. In both
cases, the house presidents posted the choices to an online survey and asked
their housemates to weigh in.
At first, when Morris residents
learned that they chose the same color scheme as Lawrence,
they asked the project architects for more options, and came
to a consensus on a different palette, said Thomas.
“I’m hopeful that everyone in the house will like it,” she said. “The architect,
Residence Life, and Facilities Management definitely tried to listen to us.”
A few other aspects of the renovations
were altered as a result of student input. Among them was
the type of message boards in the Lawrence stairwell that
served as a main source of communication. “They took the effort to find a special type
of plastic, renewable cork board that would line the walls of the stairwell to
provide a cleaner-looking, sustainable and larger area for our benefit,” said
Also, students voted a resolute “no” on the architects’ idea to paint the
interior walls wood paneling white. “The students wanted to keep the older, more
historical feeling in Lawrence and Morris,” said Chan.
The meeting and consultation
with residents is a routine part of all house renovations
during the design phase, said Charlie Conant, senior project
manager in Facilities Management, to inform them of upcoming
changes and present options for finish selections.
“These meetings are a great way to engage the students,” said Conant. “We like
to hear their suggestions and often incorporate those into the redesign of the
As a result of their input,
some residents of the houses feel a deeper connection to
their houses, they say.
“I do feel more connected to the house,” said Kasie Wong ’12, of Lawrence House. “I’m
lucky to have been one of the Lawrencians throughout time that had a voice in