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  Written by
  Chris Smith

  Photos by
  Dan Dry

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The young and studious


Lifestyles of the young and studious
The Max Palevsky Residential Commons and Bartlett Dining Commons give a new look to student life.

IMAGE:  Bartlett

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This New Year's Day marked the beginning of more than just 2002 for several hundred students at Chicago. Three months after the east wing of the new Max Palevsky Residential Commons opened in September, Palevsky Central and Palevsky West welcomed their first students January 1, coinciding with the re-opening of Bartlett Gymnasium, now retrofitted to serve as a dining facility for the new dorms.

Stretching along 56th Street from Ellis to University Avenues, the Palevsky dorms, designed by Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, were constructed at a cost of nearly $55 million. Legorreta intended the buildings-fashioned in orange brick with occasional flourishes of blue, purple, yellow, and pink-to inspire the students who will spend the bulk of their undergraduate lives there. "The architecture of a building should lift the inhabitant's spirits," said Legorreta, whose use of bright colors and abundant natural light have raised some eyebrows on a campus more accustomed to shades of gray.

Divided into eight houses of 70 to 100 students, the three buildings in the Palevsky Commons can accommodate 734 students. Most of the 383 students moving in January 1 relocated from Woodward Court, which is being torn down to make room for the new business-school complex. The Woodward transplants moved as groups to keep their houses intact, with 46 students from other dorms who volunteered to live in "Max" (as some residents quickly dubbed the dorms) scattered through the houses.

If Max's residents don't make friends in the hallways (or the lounges, laundry rooms, computer rooms, or bicycle storage rooms), maybe they'll make them at lunch. After a year and a half of work, the 98-year-old Bartlett gym has been transformed into Bartlett Dining Commons. The new dining hall seats 550, and its dining options-including made-to-order breakfasts, a brick pizza oven, and a dessert station-are open to all University students, faculty, and staff, although managers expect most of the daily traffic to come from the new dorms.

In creating the $16.5 million renovation, the designers did more than simply modernize the interior. The renovation aimed to preserve Bartlett's historic place on campus-restoring the maple basketball floor, converting the suspended running track into a lounge area with data ports for laptop computers, preserving Frederic Clay Bartlett's Athletic Games in the Middle Ages mural, and cleaning and remounting the gym's ancient scoreboard as a monument to the building's past. Although workers removed the Edward Peck Sperry stained-glass window overlooking the east entrance and installed a clear-glass replacement, the original window has been placed in storage and will be re-installed when restoration funds become available.

With Bartlett's dining hall in full service, contractors have turned their attention to completing work on the ground floor and basement-filling in the pool to create a rehearsal space, renovating the football office for a convenience store, and remodeling the trophy room for a study (the trophies are in storage until they can be displayed in the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center, coming in 2003). Work should be completed by the end of spring quarter. Spring is also when Bartlett Quadrangle-the new quad connecting Bartlett's west entrance to the Palevsky Commons and the Regenstein Library-will be landscaped.

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