Home Improvement:

Furnald Renovation Is on Schedule

Photograph: Josh Ratner in a room with a view. Photo Credit: Amy Callahan.
Photograph: Harris Schwartz, Josh Ratner and Marcelo Velez review blueprints. Photo Credit: Amy Callahan.

With torn up hallways and exposed wiring, Furnald Hall is under renovation and now just a skeleton of what it will be. But students who recently toured the residence hall took one look around, and, like first-time home buyers, used their imaginative powers to decorate.

"What's the square footage?" asked Josh Ratner, CC'98, a representative on the Undergraduate Housing Council, as he stood amidst the rubble of a future single room on the ninth floor. "How much closet space?"

The renovation of Furnald, which began last May, will be completed on schedule later this spring and be ready for students to move in for the start of the next school year. The number of beds in Furnald has decreased from 267 to 234, primarily to make room for more bathrooms and larger lounge areas.

Among other details that will make the senior residence facility seem like home to students are: common kitchen areas and lounges on each floor, cable and Ethernet hook-ups in each room, custom-made door frame moldings, an interview room and a computer room. While most of the building has been gutted, some original antique features have been preserved, such as cast iron and wood banisters in the stairwells and the original dark wood paneling in the first floor lounge.

"I think it's wonderful that they've been able to renovate it all in a year," Ratner said. "A lot of seniors were upset about it last year, and many students were worried they wouldn't get a chance to live there. Furnald is really the social center for seniors. It is one of the oldest buildings on campus, and it does have some mystique."

Harris A. Schwartz, director of University residence halls, said special attention was given to creating more single rooms. The singles are approximately 120 square feet, with some tenth floor rooms larger.

There will be no more walk-through doubles, which means doubles will be arranged so students have equal access to their rooms from the hall.

The renovation, being overseen by Columbia's project manager Marcelo Velez, includes replacement of all the wiring, plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems in the facility.

Furnald Hall opened in 1913 as a residence hall. Named after Royal Blackler Furnald, CC'01, it once served as a women's graduate dormitory and as a residence for the Law School.

During World War II, Furnald housed Navy midshipmen in training and was later mentioned in the novel, The Caine Mutiny, written by Herman Wouk, CC'34.

Columbia University Record -- March 8, 1996 -- Vol. 21, No. 19