University regents authorized a plan this week to undertake an exhaustive $49 million overhaul of Central Campus’ Dennison Building. In a dramatic and unexpected move, regents announced that the process will be spearheaded, from start to finish, by a team of licensed, qualified architects, which is a first for the now half-century old structure.
“It’s a bold move,” said astronomy professor Kevin Chu, whose office sits on the fourth floor of the building. “We’ve never known anything but this barely-habitable, lifeless load of bricks as our home.”
“All these new amenities— navigable hallways, proper egress, sufficient oxygen and natural light— they’ll certainly take some getting used to,” Chu added.
The decision to bring on a licensed, professional architect was not without controversy. In a campus almost exclusively populated with structures designed by registered architectural professionals, Dennison is often considered the last bastion of “slapdash, grotesquely incompetent” amateur design.
The current structure was modeled after a prison in which its construction manager, Marty Slims, spent the better part his twenties. Slims, who directed brick-laying crews by referring to a chart scrawled on the back of a napkin, described in personal correspondences how he was not provided with a blueprint of any kind, and once the blind construction was underway it simply “seemed way too late to bring it up.”
Dennison’s taller section, which houses classrooms, offices, bathrooms and several missing persons, was the only component of Slims’ original sketch. The second, shorter section, home to a number of lecture halls and hazardous materials, was reportedly “slapped on” as an afterthought. The two sections were then connected by a makeshift second-floor breezeway when it occurred to Slims that he had not met the University’s minimum square footage specifications.