PBHA to Renovate Brooks House

The Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) has confirmed it will renovate the east side of its first floor this summer--though two of the organization's student leaders say they wish they had had more input in the decision-making process.

The construction project--which will begin June 9 and is due to be completed before Labor Day--will refurbish PBHA's conference room and office space, according to Assistant Dean of Public Service Judith H. Kidd.

"We want to create a welcoming environment for all residents and visitors to the building," Kidd wrote in an e-mail message. "The renovation will help provide visual clarity about the office location and create new space for full-time support services."

Kidd said the first floor will also be repainted and better lighting will be installed.

The renovated conference room will serve as a filing space and work room for PBHA's committees.

Though excited about the renovations, the two student representatives on PBHA's coordinating committee for the project said they wished their opinions were given greater weight in the decision-making process.

"At the beginning, [committee member Paul E. "Ted" Mussman '00] and I believed that the committee was the decision-making body," Christine Chi-Yan Chen '00 wrote in an e-mail message. "Hence, we sought and got the input of cabinet (composed of the student directors of 50 committees and the student officers) on several occasions."

"In an interesting turn of events, we discovered that the committee was merely an advisory committee," Chen added. "The final decision would rest with Assistant Dean Kidd."

"We represented the interests of the students and Phillips Brooks House ASSOCIATION, INC. on a committee whose very nature was altered midway through the process to disempower the students," Chen added in the e-mail.

Mussman said that he and Chen were they told that the coordinating committee was only an advisory committee just two or three weeks ago. He said he had not talked to administrators before the committee began its work.

"We had understood it was going to be the decision-making body," Mussman said.

Mussman added that students were underrepresented on the Space Committee.

Kidd, however, said that the committee's purpose has never varied, and that the students had sufficient input.

"As far as I know, we met all the students' needs," Kidd said. "I don't understand where her [Chen's] concerns are."

"We had a Committee working with the architects to make sure we had input from all relevant parties," Kidd wrote.

According to an Oct. 21 "Scope of Assignment" given to the coordinating committee, one of the roles of the committee is "providing means for student and staff input throughout the process."

And Mussman did say that the committee gave its approval to the architects' blueprint.

Chen said office and meeting spaces will be moved into the parlor on the western side of the building during construction. She said the spaces will be moved back to the renovated sections of the building before school starts in September.

Oliver Radford and Stephen Perry, who oversaw last summer's Harvard Hall renovation project, will direct the building's renovation.

Chen said that Phillips Brooks House's endowment allocates about $90,000 for the renovation, and that most of the money will go towards paying the architects.

Phillips Brooks House, which was most recently renovated about 15 years ago, celebrated its 100th anniversary on Jan. 23.

PBHA, a student organization, has occupied the building since its formation in 1904.