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McManus Center Completes $4 Million Renovation

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May 23, 2007

The McManus Living/Learning Center, home for approximately 300 Kellogg School of Management students, 50 spouses/partners and children, has undergone a major renovation in the last three years.

The $4 million upgrade of the complex at 1725 Orrington Avenue began in 2003, the same time the University started a major renovation of its other graduate housing complex, Engelhart Hall.

“The goal was to improve an older residence with new furnishings, equipment and services that would provide comfortable living quarters for residents,” said Jeffrey Aaberg, assistant director of housing, who also manages Engelhart Hall.

The final McManus work included double-hung, double-insulated windows that replaced the “vintage,” sliding glass windows, keep out cold and heat during changes in seasons and improve soundproofing.

New furniture for the apartments was custom-designed by a Chicago architect/design firm to provide a professional, modern look that “feels like home,” Aaberg said.

The large lounge on the first floor overlooking the landscaped courtyard in the front of the building also got a completely modern look with new furniture and existing furniture that was re-covered. The lounge has a piano, pool table, ping-pong table and large-screen TV with VCR.

The first floor group study rooms, equipped with personal computers and printers, also were renovated with new furniture. The children's playroom was redone with bright primary and secondary colors, with carpet tiles that feature a large letter or number. The room is stocked with toys and has a TV set.

The first floor also houses a networked computer laboratory with MS/DOS compatible PCs and five laser printers. McManus apartments are wired for access to the campus wireless network. Other features include kitchen and vending machines, workout room, game room and laundry facilities.

The seven-story apartment complex serves single students, couples and students with children. It contains 208 furnished and unfurnished apartments -- 80 one-bed units, 34 two-bed units, 70 efficiency apartments and 24 twin studios.

Rents in this academic year range from $700 for a twin studio to $850 for an efficiency studio and $1,250 for a two-bed unit. Rent includes heat, electricity, gas, water, basic cable TV, wireless Internet access throughout the building, high-speed connections to the Internet in each unit, and free printing in the ground-floor computer lab. Phone service is provided by Northwestern Technologies Group. Parking is available in the 120-car underground garage, with a fee of  $81 for cars and $42 for motorcycles.

The McManus Living/Learning Center is named for 1956 Kellogg graduate James R. McManus, chairman of Marketing Corporation of America, who provided a leadership gift to the Campaign for Kellogg. It was built in 1947 at a cost of $3 million as the Northwestern Apartments. Most of the first tenants were World War II veterans because highest renting priority was given to faculty and staff men and married students who were now out of uniform. Monthly costs ranged from $60 to $120.

Increased University enrollment following the war, with consequent expansion of the faculty ranks, had aggravated the already overtaxed housing in Evanston. Faculty members lived wherever they could find suitable shelter for their families, as well as in the more than 100 completely equipped Steelcraft cottages and Quonset huts erected by the University as temporary housing.

The temporary housing included 156 prefabs and Quonset huts at Central Street and Ridge Avenue near Dyche stadium, on Isabella Street and on the campus. The campus Quonsets housed single male students and the campus prefabs housed eight single male students, and 108 families, mostly faculty, were housed in steel prefabs.

In the early 1950s, the Northwestern Apartments began to be converted to undergraduate housing. In 1979, the Kellogg School used $4 million of its Kellogg Foundation grant to purchase the building from the University and began plans to convert it to housing for Kellogg students.

Kellogg students moved into the building in 1981, with 137 of the 208 units occupied, as a major renovation got under way. The remodeling was completed for $3.6 million during the next two years. The top six floors were refurbished and the first floor was devoted to a new student center with group-study rooms, conference areas, game rooms and a multipurpose lounge.

The building was designed to permit flexibility in the size of apartments. For example, a four-room unit could be converted into two apartments; one room and three rooms; or two apartments of two rooms each. That flexibility has been maintained since the building opened.

The original “garden roof” over the garage, called the third installation of its kind in the U.S., the main floor dining room and three fenced-in play areas no longer exist, but the multi-million dollar renovation of McManus has gone a long way to provide residents with 21st century comforts.

Pembridge Hotel Becomes Women's Residence

The University built the Northwestern Apartments shortly after World War II as wartime restrictions on construction of its own housing facilities were lifted.

But the need for more undergraduate living units during the war led the University to purchase the Pembridge, a residential hotel at 1406 Chicago Ave., in 1943 for a reported price of $120,000.

Northwestern bought the building as a dormitory for female undergraduates and announced plans to remodel and refurnish the dining and kitchen areas in the 72-unit building.

A proposal to convert the building to graduate housing in 1954 was cancelled. The University later sold the Pembridge, last used as a student residence in the 1959-60 academic year, the same time it purchased the Oak Crest Hotel for graduate housing.