There’s no truth to the campus legend that Penn’s high-rises were built as temporary structures—in fact, until recently, it appears that even the furniture inside them was expected to last forever. But now, as part of a projected $80 million effort to renovate the three 30-plus-year-old buildings, the original desks, bureaus, tables, and chairs will be replaced by some combination of four possible design schemes.

The first high-rise to be made over is Hamilton College House. Sample furniture was installed in selected student rooms this fall, and residents were invited to vote on their favorites in November. (The results were still being tabulated and reviewed as the Gazette went to press.) The original sofas, which miraculously were still in good shape, will be reupholstered in “funky retro patterns called ‘Small Dots,’ which look like jacks, and ‘Hula Hoop,’” according to a handout from the Housing and Dining Renewal Project.

Furniture for the three buildings, which house about 800 students each, should cost $2 million. The Hamilton House renovation, which began last summer and is projected to cost $26.5 million, also includes patching and sealing exterior concrete, replacing the window/wall system; installing new sprinklers and elevators, refurbishing public spaces, and adding computer labs and other amenities, as well as landscaping designed to “bring the Hamilton Village area up to the level at the core of campus,” says art-history department chair and former College House director David Brownlee, who continues to oversee the renovation effort.

Most of the work at Hamilton House is expected to be complete by fall 2003, with the other high-rise College Houses, Harrison and Harnwell, to follow.

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