• Crews were hard at work on the outside facade of Burton-Conner this summer. Much work was done on the main entrance side of the building, including repair and re-pointing of brick, repairing medallions and rebuilding and painting the front entrance.

    Photo: Tom Gearty

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  • Not just a hallway — an asbestos-free hallway. Asbestos adhesive was removed and in its place is a new tile floor in Burton-Conner.

    Photo: Tom Gearty

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  • Out with the old, in with the new. More than 30 new sinks were installed in Burton-Conner bathrooms as well as 60-plus new showers.

    Photo: Tom Gearty

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  • Shiny, functional and safe. MacGregor will benefit from the installation of new fire alarms, smoke detectors and sprinkler systems.

    Photo: Tom Gearty

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  • While the view was spectacular, the crews focused on improving rooftop waterproofing on Burton-Conner. Extension of the rubber roofing over the parapet will eliminate recurring leakage and water damage as well as adherence to building codes for seismic safety.

    Photo: Tom Gearty

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  • Improved and more efficient hot water systems were installed in Burton-Conner and MacGregor. Keeping the old system in place as a backup will ensure uninterrupted service.

    Photo: Tom Gearty

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  • Key members of the summer renewal projects from the Division of Student Life, from left to right: Phil Hatchouel, manager of renovation and construction, Housing; Chris Nolan, assistant director, renovations and construction, Housing; Bob Ramsey, MacGregor House manager.

    Photo: Tom Gearty

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For renovated dorms, what you don’t see is what you get

Behind-the-scenes summer housing improvements offer significant benefit to several residential halls.


A visitor walking through Burton-Connor or MacGregor a month ago could be excused for not recognizing the buildings now.

Then, these buildings were a hive of activity from the basement to the roof as workers installed new hot water and fire systems, removed asbestos, and renovated roof parapets and facades. But when MIT’s students returned this week to move back into the dorms, the scale of the effort was practically invisible.

“We made vital improvements to these buildings that will have a real benefit for the residents,” said Director of Housing Dennis Collins. “But since most of this work took place in mechanical rooms, on roofs, and behind the scenes, the results may not be obvious to students.”

In all, Housing oversaw nearly $5 million of renovation and repair in four buildings that were closed for the summer: Bexley, Burton-Connor, MacGregor and Random. The renovations, which were a collaborative effort between Housing and the MIT Facilities, included:

  • Improved heat and hot water systems for Burton-Connor and MacGregor;
  • New fire alarms, smoke detectors, and sprinklers systems in MacGregor;
  • Rebuilt parapets, as well as repair and re-pointing of masonry, for Burton-Connor; and improved rooftop waterproofing on Burton-Connor and MacGregor;
  • Asbestos removal in Burton-Connor, MacGregor, and Random;

Download a complete, detailed listing of the summer renovation projects here (PDF)

Some work occurred in living areas, such as 63 new showers and more than 30 new sinks in student bathrooms in Burton-Connor; new washers and dryers, 10 new showers, and carpet replacement in 45 rooms in MacGregor; and a thorough cleaning from top to bottom in all buildings at a scale that has not been possible in previous summers when these residences were occupied.

Seniors Christina Johnson, the Dormitory Council president; Vrajesh Modi, the Undergraduate Association president; and Megan Roth, Dormitory Council vice president, toured the buildings with Collins this week. “I could see that it was necessary to close these buildings,” Johnson said. “It would not have been possible for students to be living in the dorms and still be able to accomplish what was done.”

The renovations also offered significant improvements for Housing’s operations, according to Collins. For example, in MacGregor, crews installed shut-off valves in radiators in all student rooms, lounges, and GRT apartments; now, Housing can conduct spot repairs without having to turn heat off for the entire building. The new fire system in MacGregor makes the building much safer for residents, and installing a new water system in Burton-Connor while keeping the old one in place as a backup will ensure uninterrupted service.

The closing of these four residences — Bexley, Burton-Connor, MacGregor and Random Hall — was part of a new system for utilizing summer housing stock that was developed according to a charge from the Institute-Wide Planning Task Force. The Dean for Student Life and the Housing Office worked in close collaboration with the Dormitory Council, the Undergraduate Association and Housemasters to review summer housing and develop the new system.

Closing the buildings expanded the hours and days that construction and renovation crews were able to work, so large projects could be tackled start to finish within a single summer. MIT also realized savings through reduced utilities and staffing costs.

Housing will continue to work with student leaders and Housemasters to ensure that the community understands the new policies and that the summer housing system is as accommodating as possible for undergraduate students and guests.


Topics: Campus buildings and architecture, Campus services, Facilities, Student life, Students, Undergraduate

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