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Gables to undergo $7.6m renovation

Staff Writer

Published: Friday, February 21, 2014

Updated: Friday, February 21, 2014 02:02

Gables Towers A, B and C are slated to undergo a $7.6 million dollar renovation project this summer, financed through the procurement of a 10-year, low-interest loan, according to Director of Housing Kathy Irla-chesney

“One of our goals,” Irla-chesney said, “is to offer UNH students the best housing possible at reasonable rates.” 

The Gables are by no means in squalid form, but college apartments age like dogs and, considering it’s been 23 years since a renovation, a few students are complaining. 

“The Gables [A, B and C Tower] are looking good considering how old they are,” B Tower resident Lauren Pinchieri said, “but nothing like North and South Tower. They’ve got dishwashers, and if that doesn’t mean anything to you, then you’ve never lived in an apartment with five other girls.”

As many UNH students are all too familiar with, washing dishes by hand is something akin to first world martyrdom and as thankless an endeavor as being the only one who ever refills the ice trays. 

Like the marvel with which one imagines a Neanderthal basking slack-jawed before the first fire, such is the condition visitors of North and South Tower find themselves in: gaping at their neighbors’ appliance, one more spaghetti- encrusted bowl away from dishwasher idolatry. 

The extensive renovations are effectively shuttling the three Towers out of the Paleolithic and into the 21st century.

“Gables A, B and C will have their bathrooms and kitchens updated, including new appliances,” Irla-chesney said. 

This alone answers residents’ prayers, but the deal gets sweetened further.

“Lighting and flooring will be replaced, apartments will be painted and receive all-new living and dining furniture as well,” Irla-chesney said. 

Harriman Architectures and Engineers was hired for the interior design of the project, an aesthetic Assistant Director of Apartment Living Michael Saputo described as having an “open and airy look … with more lighting and warm color schemes. Saputo added the whole team is “excited about each one [four-, five- and six-person apartment layouts] and [we] think students will really enjoy them.” 

Those familiar with Towers A, B and C know the frustrations of flickering lights, toilets with indiscriminate flushing habits and, of course, the pipe-bursting episode over winter break. LED bulbs will replace the old lighting in the apartments, and the toilet system will feature new water-conserving plumbing. 

The pipe burst was “a result of unusually bitter cold weather and other circumstances, including residents leaving windows open and the need for increased insulation in some of the attic spaces,” Irla-chesney said. She also said that “these concerns have already been attended to.” 

The plan to renovate the three towers has “been in the works for the past couple of years,” according to Assistant Director of Housing Facilities and Operations Michel Williams, emphasizing that student feedback throughout the planning stages was taken seriously in respect to “dishwashers, improving lighting and more comfortable living room furniture.” 

Gables residents continue to influence the final implementation of the project, down to the smallest details. Saputo recently emailed residents a survey that asked their preferences in terms of kitchen chairs, offering the style choice between a high-top bar style and a standard style. 

Despite the close relationship between the students and designers, not everyone is happy with the renovations.

One of the most ambitious aspects of the plan takes place in the bathroom and involves retrofitting the tub and shower layout into a walk-in shower, which is adjacent to a tile cubby system for toiletries. 

“I like the bathtubs,” B Tower resident Marc Romano said of the new walk-in design. “If they get rid of those how will I take my weekly tubbies?” 

There are 15 different layouts between the three buildings, and any project of this scope involves many people.

“It took a lot of different voices and opinions,” Gables Complex Manager Victoria Wilson said in regards to finalizing the renovations plan.

Wilson’s advice was sought during several conference meetings over the course of last summer and, as a North Tower resident herself, Wilson has first-person knowledge of what students are looking for. Her two most crucial suggestions – echoing a dishwasher-depraved milieu – were for the addition of a dishwasher and a larger refrigerator.

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Mon Feb 24 2014 08:16
Yes, this reveals a lot about priorities among our administrators. Emphasize the country-club elements of college, spend millions on state-of-the-art dormitories, while numerous academic & classroom buildings are in decrepit disrepair (PCAC, Ham-Smith, Horton, etc.).
Fri Feb 21 2014 16:24
Come on UNH Administration! I'm not saying that these renovations aren't needed, or that they aren't a good thing. They probably are. But what is the point of having a Campus Master Plan if you aren't going to use it to make decisions? There is NOTHING in the Campus Master Plan about a 7.6M loan to renovate Gables. If you can't stick to your own plans, why on earth would Concord be willing to give the University money for further renovations?

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