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MIT advised to demolish empty, century-plus-old dorm, Bexley Hall

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  October 18, 2013 12:19 PM

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MIT administrators were advised this week to demolish Bexley Hall, an empty, century-plus-old dormitory that has been shuttered since last spring when the building was abruptly closed due to structural problems.

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(MIT Housing)
"In order to reuse the facility, various codes would require significant upgrades … In sum, the entire facility would need to be rebuilt,” MIT facilities director Richard Amster told an advisory group at a meeting Thursday, according to the institute’s news office.

If MIT leaders follow the recommendation, the institute said it will need to seek approval and permits from the city of Cambridge before tearing down the building at 50 Massachusetts Avenue.

Chancellor Eric Grimson plans to convene a new working group to look at how MIT can replace the housing that will be lost if administrators ultimately decide to raze Bexley, officials said. That group will also explore how to best reuse the space where Bexley stands now.

“The situation with Bexley is unexpected and the news is tough, especially for students and alumni who naturally grew attached to Bexley and the community it fostered,” Grimson said in a statement. “Should the committee’s recommendation be accepted, we will need to be deliberate in formulating our next steps with regard to both housing and the future use of that location.”

“It is important that we find an effective way to replace the lost housing space, and that we find a way to sustain the Bexley community, both in name and in spirit,” he added.

MIT closed the dorm last spring with just a few weeks notice leaving some of the buildings’ 100-plus students scrambling to find a new place to live. At the time, the institute said the dorm would be closed indefinitely, and for up to three years, as its structural status was reviewed.

The building was constructed for apartment use just over 100 years ago. MIT officials said their engineering review has found that it was not built according to the “best practices” in use at the time, which has contributed to its recent structural problems.

MIT bought the building in 1939 and the institute acknowledged it did not adequately keep up with maintenance of that building as well as other facilities it owns.

Officials at MIT said they have begun to step up their efforts to better maintain buildings, including conducting additional inspections and needed repairs over the summer to a number of its buildings.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at mjrochele@gmail.com. Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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