President's House renovation funded privately

by Brendan Woods | 12/1/09 11:00pm

by Akikazu Onda and Akikazu Onda / The Dartmouth

Despite unexpected electrical problems uncovered during construction, the President's House project is slated for completion by next February, according to director of planning, design and construction Stephen Campbell.

Kim said in his presentation that as a result of the private donations, the cost of the President's House renovations will be "off the books of Dartmouth College." The renovation is necessary, Kim said, both to allow for the house to be used for fundraising and to address significant safety concerns.

"I came into a situation where there was a house that was built in 1926 in which the heating system, the plumbing and part of the electrical system hadn't been changed in 83 years," Kim said. "The basement flooded every time it rained. I have two kids. A flooded basement with old wiring is not a very safe environment for two young children."

Replacing the electrical, plumbing and other systems accounts for 80 percent of the total expense, Kim said. Renovations will also make the house more accessible.

Kim said that the renovations on the President's House make him "uncomfortable," considering the economic recession, but that he recognizes the importance of the house in College culture.

"I see it as part of my duty to maintain the tradition of living in the President's House," Kim said. "I feel badly about it I'm sorry about it, but we started the house long before we understood the details of this financial situation. At this point, we're going to just finish it."

Construction on the other two major projects the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center and the Visual Arts Center is also on schedule. The Life Sciences Center is scheduled for occupancy in August 2011, and the Visual Arts Center is set for completion in fall 2012. This week, construction crews working on the Life Sciences Center will officially "top out" the steel frame, Campbell said, meaning that the last piece of steel will be placed on the building's frame.