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Myles Standish to Get Major Reconstruction

BU hopes to lease new building for students displaced by work

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Myles Standish Hall and Annex, the oldest dormitory in BU’s inventory and the storied gateway to East Campus, will get a two-year, $130 million renovation, inside and out, beginning after Commencement in May.

No student will be homeless during the stem-to-stern rehab, and parts of the residence will be inhabited throughout the construction. Meanwhile, the University intends to lease a new apartment building with 180 studio units, nearing completion across campus at 1047 Commonwealth Ave. The plan calls for housing the students displaced by the Myles work there, says Marc Robillard, executive director of housing and dining at Auxiliary Services.

Planning for the work is proceeding while the University awaits various city approvals, including permission from the Boston Redevelopment Authority, which must OK an amendment to BU’s master plan enabling the lease of 1047 Comm Ave for students. The approvals are expected sometime in the winter and spring.

Myles and its Annex currently have 753 beds. During the coming (2016–2017) academic year, 405 students will remain there and the following year 362 will live there, Robillard says. Which students stay and which move will be determined by students’ choices and if necessary, the regular University room selection lottery. Those who remain at Myles during the 2016–2017 academic year will receive a 50 percent discount on the regular room rate; the following year, students in the newly renovated Myles rooms will get a 20 percent discount, while students in the Annex—where renovations will still be in progress—will receive a 50 percent discount. (Room rates for the coming year will be announced later this semester.)

“That’s really a recognition that this whole area is going to be a construction site,” says Robillard. “It’s going to be a noisy place.” The project is “going to be disruptive, but we’re going to come out with a great product at the end.”

The redesigned layout of the Myles Standish interior increases privacy; currently, some students can access the common bathrooms only through other students’ rooms.

The redesigned layout of the Myles Standish interior increases privacy; currently, some students can access the common bathrooms only through other students’ rooms.

Built in the 1920s, Myles and the Annex will get new windows, stonework along the ninth floor, mortar, metal supports for the brickwork, and some new bricks. “That stonework has deteriorated,” Robillard says. “Over the years, rain gets into the mortar, and it freezes, contracts, freezes, contracts. Then there’s the metalwork that holds the brick the entire length of the building. That gets wet, it gets rusty—when metal rusts…it expands. That moves all the brick.”

It’s “a dangerous situation,” posing the threat of falling stone or brick, he says. “This has to be addressed.”

Inside, the building will be gutted to fix leaks, install air-conditioning and three more elevators, and redesign rooms with more privacy. Robillard says the current room layout typically features double rooms flanked on either side by singles, accessible only through the double room. Those singles’ occupants must intrude on their neighbors’ double room to reach the singles, and to reach the common bathroom area.

“There’s absolutely no privacy,” he says. “Everyone walks through somebody else’s room.” In the renovated layout, “you’re not walking through anyone’s bedroom to get to your bedroom, and you’re not walking through anyone’s bedroom to get to the bathroom.” The sinks for the new bathrooms will be outside the bathroom proper, so if someone needs the shower or toilet, they won’t block access to the sink, as happens in the current layout.

The renovated residence is expected to be ready for full, normal occupation for the fall 2018 semester.

Other than minor cosmetic work on the building, “we haven’t touched it since 1949,” the year BU bought it, Robillard says. But “this is an important building for us, for a lot of reasons. Essentially, it’s the entry way into the campus.”

Then there’s its status as BU’s first dorm. “It’s served us really well for a long time,” he says. That longevity has loaded it with lore. Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59) met his future wife, Coretta, there, according to Robillard, and “Joan Baez lived there her entire Boston University career—about six weeks.”

Louis Lataif (Questrom’61, Hon.’90), Questrom Professor and Dean Emeritus of the Questrom School of Business, operated the Myles elevator as a BU undergraduate in the Eisenhower and Kennedy years. Running for election as a class officer, “he asked everyone who got in the elevator for their vote,” says Robillard. “And he won.”

22 Comments
Rich Barlow

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.

22 Comments on Myles Standish to Get Major Reconstruction

  • Joyce on 01.28.2016 at 6:20 am

    Instead of spending 130 million renovating it, why not just tear it down and build a nicer and more energy efficient building?

    • Gary Nicksa, Senior VP Operations on 01.28.2016 at 7:55 am

      Current zoning and design standards would result in a new, replacement building being smaller and would house fewer students. A totally renovated Myles and the Annex will essentially be a new building.

    • Former RA of Myles on 01.28.2016 at 11:08 am

      Myles is also a historic building.

    • Frank on 01.28.2016 at 12:40 pm

      Preserving and remodeling a building rather than tearing down the building is usually more efficient and ‘green’ than tearing down and creating a new building.

    • Dennis Carlberg on 01.28.2016 at 12:44 pm

      Joyce,
      This is a great question. While we commonly perceive new buildings as more energy efficient than old ones, when we consider the embodied energy (and carbon) that exists in buildings that have already been built the evaluation changes significantly. According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, it takes about 65 years for an energy-efficient new building to save the amount of energy lost in demolishing an existing building.

      For more information see: http://www.bu.edu/sustainability/what-were-doing/green-buildings/adaptive-reuse-2/. Also, you should know the team has been working diligently to design a very energy efficient building. Myles is registered for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification with the US Green Building Council where energy efficiency is a core element of that certification.

  • Mina on 01.28.2016 at 9:35 am

    I really hope they save the overhang on top of the door. As a current student, I love the design of it. It’s probably also a nice call back for alums who lived there over the years.

    • Jose Artigas on 01.30.2016 at 4:23 pm

      This work actually may be worthwhile, unlike the vanity construction that routinely gobbles up higher-ed budgets at the expense of actual instruction.

  • MB on 01.28.2016 at 11:07 am

    What about historical integrity? Is the university going to gut lovely old woodwork and non-deteriorated cosmetic aspects and replace them with sterile glass garbage like they did in Shelton? Arthur Miller wrote about this building. Shinier isn’t always better.

    • IC on 01.28.2016 at 5:22 pm

      The “lovely woodwork” is currently a mess – if you have actually been inside the rooms, you can see what used to be woodwork. As it stands, most of it is moldy/holey and should be torn down. Myles was, and shouldn’t be, a preservation project. Especially after serving Boston University for so long, it deserves a fresh start.

  • alumni on 01.28.2016 at 3:39 pm

    How about instead of construction you put some money towards student scholarships and redesigning buildings (ahem COM) that actually need it.

    • Smarter Child on 01.28.2016 at 4:35 pm

      If you have ever been inside of Myles, you will know that it needs the work. Nobody should have to live in those current conditions.

    • COM-alum on 01.28.2016 at 4:36 pm

      COM needed to be redesigned 25 years ago. Probably more. If it hasn’t happened by now, well, it just reinforces where COM is on the university’s priority list. This is sad, given the caliber of students coming out of COM.

      • CAITLIN CUSHMAN on 02.04.2016 at 10:53 am

        COM is specifically singled out as a priority in the University’s latest strategic plan: http://www.bu.edu/plan2015/05/ (Click on “The Future,” and you’ll see it has its own category). It includes this line, completely relevant to your concerns, “By investing in both faculty and facilities, we plan to make sure that our College of Communication is at the forefront of high-quality undergraduate and graduate programs, preparing our graduates for the rapidly changing world of new media.”

        But it takes donors to make this happen. If COM alumni (or communication supporters from across the University and around the world) do not choose support COM, there’s not much the University can do.

  • Jo on 01.28.2016 at 9:53 pm

    How about we use that money to give Danielson a major face lift??? Half of the bathrooms in Danielson don’t even have toilets that flush properly. Additionally, there’s a plethora of severely cracked bathroom tiles, paint chipped Windows, and antiquated heaters.
    Danielson is a mess to say the least. BU should be embarrassed.

  • SS on 01.29.2016 at 2:42 am

    I’m fond of historical buildings, but having lived in Myles I agree that it was likely the worst of the large dorms. They can’t do anything to preserve all the bits and pieces, but I hope they preserve the building’s proud character and spirit.

    • Jose Artigas on 01.30.2016 at 4:25 pm

      Let’s get to the major issue: what about the ghost?? Is there still a home for for the feature that truly makes MSH a building of legend? The BU admin should make available their plans for preserving an essential part of BU lore.

  • Lesley Newton on 01.29.2016 at 3:52 am

    I’m glad to see that Myles Standish will be preserved. My grandfather was General Manager of the hotel and my father and aunt grew up there.

  • Ian Lamont on 01.30.2016 at 1:45 pm

    Loved living in Myles, and I am glad to see Boston University is preserving the existing building rather than replacing it. I had a corner single on the 3F and it was great for studying and socializing. Are WTBU and racquetball court still operational in the Annex?

  • AP on 01.31.2016 at 12:46 am

    Awesome! I lived in Myles 2004-2005, and while it was a really cozy building, it desperately needed work. The walls, heat system, and carpets were incredible poor repair, and the lack of privacy was awful! Not only were there no common spaces in your suite, causing someone’s room to serve as a passthrough to the door and bathroom, there were few common spaces in the building except for quiet study lounges, so if you were having a private conversation, you were hiding in the stairwell or the entry way to the Annex as everyone else walked past you.

    I’m curious as to how the irregular rooms will be renovated. I remember there were a bunch of rooms with angular walls located in the Point and along the slant of the building facing Bay State Road, as well as the huge -26 rooms. The layout shown in the article won’t work for those rooms, since many of them were smaller or oddly angled.

  • MK on 02.10.2016 at 8:23 pm

    My daughter and her friends are thinking about staying in Myles during the construction. What days and hours will the construction take place? Also, will there be construction during the weekends? I’m also concerned about the issue of asbestos. It is an old building so I am sure that there is asbestos in the walls.

    • Marc Robillard on 02.11.2016 at 8:01 am

      Thank you for your questions. Normal construction hours are 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. We do not anticipate the need to work on Saturdays during the academic year. Should our contractors need to work on a Saturday we will give student advance notice. Regulated materials, such as asbestos, will be removed under strict state and federal guidelines. Industrial Hygienists will constantly monitor the site, as will University and contractor safety officers.

      I hope that this information is helpful.

      Marc Robillard
      Executive Director of Auxiliary Services

  • KL on 03.11.2017 at 12:33 pm

    I am posting here on March 10, 2017. What is the current expected completion date at this point? Thank you!

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