I-House undergoes renovations

By Nicole Burgoyne

The $27 million plan to renovate International House (I-House) is proceeding according to schedule, according to William McCartney, the director of I-House.

“The renovation is going as well as can be expected with an older building,” McCartney said of the project. “There are always some surprises and complications when you have a 74-year-old building.”

The west wing of I-House, which is dedicated to residential housing for graduate students and some undergraduates, will reopen for autumn quarter following extensive remodeling.

“Student rooms have been gutted and rebuilt, new furniture will be installed in all student rooms. The building has new wiring and plumbing. A forced-air ventilation system will bring conditioned and dehumidified air to students’ rooms. There will be ceiling fans in every student room along with new windows, flooring, and wiring for cable TV and data. A building-wide wireless system will also be installed,” McCartney said.

The 174 spaces available in the west wing have all been reserved with the rest of I-House’s 500 available rooms, which are expected to be completed between late January and mid-February.

The renovation of the residential area of I-House constitutes the third phase of the work schedule; the first was the update of the fire alarm system and the second the replacement of the roof and restoration of the exterior and façade. In addition to the residential rooms, the map room has been restored and a new boardroom has been added for private dining functions and small meetings. Although officials said the construction on the exterior of the building is complete, the entrance might be remade so the building would be accessible to disabled persons.

Reports of the budget for the renovation have jumped over the course of the construction. The Chronicle reported on May 1, 2003, that the Board of Trustees had approved a $21 million budget, while a Maroon article published April 26 of this year reported $25 million. The most recent figure given by McCartney was $27 million. As the first line of the Chronicle article said, the Board of Trustees seems to indeed support I-House in its bid for revamping.

VOA, a local architecture firm, was contracted to execute the alterations to the building. A renovation committee comprised of facilities services and I-House staff worked with the firm to achieve the goal of the renovation: recreating the look of I-House in the 1930s.

The I-House at the U of C is part of a chain of International Houses in New York, Berkley, Paris, and Tokyo. I-House is currently home to students from over 50 countries and has in its lifetime hosted over 30,000 students from virtually every country, according to its website.