Oct. 4, 2001
Vol. 21 No. 2

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    Students begin to settle in

    By Carrie Golus
    News Office

    Students Albert Horsting (seated at desk) and his roommate David Barr have completed interior decorating in their new residence hall room at Max Palevsky East, the portion of the Max Palevsky Residential Commons that opened to students at the beginning of the Fall Quarter.

    Of all the buildings on the University campus, the newest––Max Palevsky Residential Commons––is perhaps already the most noticeable landmark. With its intensely orange brick and greenhouse-like windows trimmed in purple, yellow and––soon to come, once Palevsky West is completed––hot pink, the building is a blast of Mexican sunlight on any gray Chicago day.

    Palevsky’s first residents moved in Saturday, Sept. 15. By the middle of the following week, the students had transformed the building’s interior, using a typical mix of bedspreads, posters, pillows, wall hangings and, in some rooms, American flags.

    The furniture in Palevsky was deliberately chosen to be adaptable, as its new residents quickly discovered. First-year David Barr and his roommate Albert Horsting, a second-year and an orientation aide, decided to stack their beds to make room for a mini-lounge. “It’s been great. We had a lot of people in the room last night playing cards because we have so much floor space,” Barr said.

    In their lounge space, Barr and Horsting daringly juxtaposed a bookshelf and a wicker chair with the mounted head of a prong-horned antelope. “I didn’t kill it,” said Barr. “My neighbor was throwing it away, so I rescued it from the landfill. We figured it would be unique,” he explained. So far, they have not invited any vegetarian or vegan friends over. “I don’t think I will,” said Barr.

    Sophie Smith and Carmen Lam also have chosen an unorthodox room arrangement. Lam opted to jack up her bed to create a fort-like space underneath. “I’m going to get some bean bags, sleeping bags and blankets and put them under here so we can study,” said Lam. Smith eventually plans to do the same with her side of the room.

    Meghan Connett chose a Beatles theme on her side of the room, both visually and aurally: a black-and-white poster of the early ’60s-era Beatles was hung over her desk, while Rubber Soul played softly on the stereo.

    Like many of Palevsky’s new residents, Connett was seduced by the extreme convenience of the dorm’s location. “I decided I really wanted to be in the center of campus,” she said. “I’m not a person that can plan 20 minutes to get to class.”

    Sonal Patel, one of Connett’s suitemates, cited the unique floor plan as one of her favorite aspects of her new living space. Each double room is paired with another double, so that four people share a front door, a small foyer and two half-bathrooms: one with a shower and sink, one with a toilet and sink. “I just loved the fact that you have more than one roommate––you have three,” Patel said.

    Patel’s roommate Vivian Chen spoke highly of her suitemates. “It’s awesome. I came here for diversity, and that is what I got. Our room is so diverse. Next door we have Meghan (Connett) from Lincoln, Neb.; and Ana (Minian) from Mexico City; and then there’s Sonal from Glenview, Ill.; and I’m from California. We all get along really well.”

    Ricardo Legorreta, a Mexican architect who won the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 2000, designed the new residence hall. His most recognized works include the San Antonio Public Library, the Pershing Square city park in Los Angeles, IBM’s mixed-use development in Dallas, and the Children’s Discovery Museum and the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, Calif.

    According to a 1999 Chronicle interview with Legorreta, his design was intended to offer “a friendly, open environment where students also have peace and privacy.” He also wanted the building to be cheerful, which explains its audacious color scheme: “The architecture of a building should lift the inhabitants’ spirits,” he said.

    David Munson, whose room overlooks the newly sodded inner courtyard, said, “I can definitely see that. I think he succeeded. When you walk down the halls it’s really bright. There’s a lot of light from the windows.”

    Munson’s suitemate, David Miller, gave the colorful atmosphere a thumbs-up. “I’m very happy with it. I love the colors. It’s a very warm building––not in temperature, but in feeling and aura.”

    The building is named for alumnus Max Palevsky (A.B., ’48), co-founder of Intel Corp. and a well-known art collector and campaign finance reform activist. The $53 million complex is part of a $500 million Campus Master Plan that will continue over the next decade.

    Palevsky East is the first of the complex’s three sections to open. Palevsky Central and Palevsky West will open in Winter Quarter, when former residents of Woodward Court will move in.

    During the Fall Quarter, approximately 70 percent of the residents of Palevsky will be first-years, which was a deciding factor for Jessica Brooks. “I wanted to live in a building with a lot of first-years, so I could meet a lot of new people,” she said. “Everybody’s really friendly.”

    Brooks’ roommate, Sivani Babu, agreed. “It helps to have a lot of first-years around. I’m from California, and no one from my school came here. But I’ve met a lot of people so far, and I’ve made a lot of friends.”

    In the building’s design, Legorreta incorporated the University’s house system, creating three buildings that are easily divided into eight “houses” with 70 to 100 students per house. “We’ve gotten really close in our house,” said Caitlin Hudac. “We’re really good friends already, and it’s only the first week.”

    Hudac and her roommate Erica Cerulo, like many of Palevsky’s residents, chose to live there because it was brand new. They will be the first to sleep in the beds, use the showers or hang posters on the walls. And while many of the older residential houses have traditions dating back decades or longer, Cerulo said, “we can start our own.”