I-House renovates with new funds
Home to Nobel laureates (Enrico
Fermi, to name one) and poets (Langston Hughes), International House
has played a special role in the life of the University since 1932,
when John D. Rockefeller Jr. funded construction of the Holabird
& Root design to promote international understanding. This April
the University’s trustees gave I-House a new lease on life,
approving a $21 million budget to renovate the building’s
exterior, systems, and bedrooms.
Photo by Dan Dry
furniture updates I-House bedrooms.
Improvements to the envelope of
the neo-Gothic building at 59th Street and Dorchester Avenue will
include restoring the limestone façade to comply with city
high-rise standards, new and wider-opening windows, and new, non-leaking
roofs. The project will also bring up to code the 70-year-old plumbing
and electrical systems (much of the wiring is original to the building).
The passenger elevators also will be upgraded, and the vintage freight
elevator will be replaced.
500 bedrooms also will be refurbished. Along with new moveable furniture
(replacing 38-year-old built-ins) and ceiling fans, rooms
will be fitted with high-speed Internet connections. Not included
in the $21 million but on the list of things to come is an upgrade
of the building’s public rooms.
The planned physical renovation
has been accompanied by an overhaul of I-House’s organizational
structure. Both improvements underscore a commitment to renewing
Rockefeller’s vision of I-House as a vehicle to promote cross-cultural
understanding among students, scholars, and Chicago citizens. Now
home to more than 300 graduate and advanced undergraduate students
and others, I-House also serves the greater Chicago community—offering
hundreds of programs each year, including music and cultural performances,
outreach with area international organizations and foreign consulates,
and discussions and debates.
“With renovated facilities
and a revitalized image,” says Henry Pernet, AM’67,
PhD’79, I-House director since December 2000, “I-House
will truly be able to fulfill its mission to promote understanding
and mutual respect among people of different backgrounds and cultures.”