Pepperdine’s London House will receive a $4 million makeover in the spring to modernize its aging plumbing, electrical infrastructure and student areas.
Administrators in Malibu and London have been working on plans to renovate the building since 2004, and have utilized input from students to develop the best possible designs. The house was last renovated when it was purchased in August of 1987.
“After being used as a classroom, dormitory and living quarters for the past 20 years, the infrastructure needs to be replaced — that includes sewer and water lines, electrical lines and heating and air conditioning,” Program Director Carolyn Vos Strache wrote in an e-mail. “The house is functioning and meets minimum health standards but it does not measure up to the high quality standards that Pepperdine has in Malibu.”
Infrastructure changes include a modernized, energy-efficient plumbing system, new electrical wiring for more laptop power connections, and a remodeled elevator.
Much of the house will also be refurbished, including student bedrooms and bathrooms, faculty apartments, the undergraduate and law student lounges, and a remodeled kitchen to allow for more space for students to cook lunch and dinner.
Junior Nick Stewart attended the London program in Fall 2006 and said the renovations do not seem necessary, but they are a good idea to avoid more serious problems associated with the house’s aging infrastructure.
“All the furnishings looked older but I guess you notice most through the amount of wear,” Stewart said. “We lost hot water a lot. The kitchen was cramped and old and it wasn’t very practical to have a large scale cooking operation in there.”
Construction will begin in early March and is expected to be completed in September of 2008.
“The intention of this whole thing is to make the London House even better than it already is,” said Charles Hall, dean of International Programs.
Students enrolled in the Spring and Summer 2008 programs will not be staying in the house during that time.
Spring 2008 students will be spending the last month of the program in Greece, where they will complete a religion course and will likely be housed in a hotel. The spring schedule will be finalized next month.
The Summer 2008 internship program will still occur in London but students will be housed in Central London. Hall said Pepperdine is looking for a facility within the same vicinity as the London house and students may stay at London’s Imperial College.
According to Vos Strache, the renovation campaign has been named “Mind the Gap.” The phrase comes from a recorded voice in the London subway system that has reminded passengers since 1969 to “mind the gap” between the platform and the train.
The phrase is also a saying used by the British to describe the difference between the way things are and the way things should be.
“As a motto for our Pepperdine London Campaign, “Mind the Gap” uses both senses, highlighting the need to close a few gaps in the London House: the gap between a building interior worn out by 20 years of constant use and a beautiful building exterior listed as an English Heritage property,” Vos Strache wrote.
Junior Sarah Firman, an R.A. for the London program last year, also emphasized the need for balance when altering the house.
“[Renovations] can be a really good thing if we keep the balance between the modern changes and the culture of house,” Firman said. “Everyone that has attended the program has a lot of London pride and a lot of love for the house. As long as the changes don’t interfere with what we think of house and are not taking away from its culture, it can be positive.”