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Myles Standish Hall and Annex, the oldest dormitory in BU’s inventory and the storied gateway to East Campus, is getting a two-year, $130 million renovation, inside and out.
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,” says Marc Robillard, executive director of housing and dining at Auxiliary Services. “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.
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, across campus at 1047 Commonwealth Ave. The plan calls for housing the students displaced by the Myles work there, says Robillard.
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 entryway 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 Scott (Hon.’69), there, according to Robillard, and “Joan Baez lived there her entire Boston University career—about six weeks.”