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The Dartmouth
May 26, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

College updates its Master Plan

The College has begun a six-month revision of its "Physical Facilities Inventory and Recommendations" document, otherwise known as the College's Master Plan.

The Master Plan is a 61-page illustrated book that catalogues College-owned buildings and population statistics. It details plans for future renovations and construction.

"We do not plan courses or majors," said Director of Facilities Planning Gordie DeWitt. "We just work with physical facilities and where on campus facilities might be built. We decide what we have and what might be upgraded."

The College is upgrading this facilities document for the second time.

"We have a Master Plan and we are updating," DeWitt said. "The origin of the present plan was done in 1983 and it was updated in 1989. We are beginning to update it again."

The many changes in facilities and structure of the College since 1989 have necessitated the new document, DeWitt said.

"The campus has changed much since 1989 in terms of new facilities," he said. "We are trying to build new facilities with the tenants of the Master Plan in line."

The current Master Plan includes various recommendations for the next decade for the College including acquisition of land to link the campus to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, the development of open spaces at Massachusetts and Fayerweather Rows, closing of public streets to reduce traffic at the College Green and various alterations of many buildings.

In updating its plan, the College will conduct interviews over with members of the Dartmouth community to solicit opinions about what the College should change about its physical plan and will then synthesize what it learns form the interviews.

"An update means interviewing many people in Dartmouth and Hanover," DeWitt said. "We do not know whether we have any changes in mind. That is the purpose of going through the interviews with various departments to see what people have in mind."

Lo-Yi Chen '54 will aid the College in updating the new plan.

Chen designed the original Master Plan, DeWitt said.

"We decided the effort he did before was very good," he said. "We are talking about an update that will look ahead five to 10 years. It made sense to use the same consultant."

"Lo-Yi, as an alumnus of the College and somebody who grew up in the College, has town issues in mind as well," DeWitt added. "Lo-Yi has a real familiarity with Hanover."

Though he lives in New York City, Chen will visit the College frequently over the next few months.

"The first thing Gordie and I will do is methodically interview 40 to 50 people in the College from students to the [College] President," Chen said. "The idea is to immerse ourselves in the College."

The College began its interviews of faculty, administrators and students last Wednesday, Chen said.

Students' points of view are important because they see the campus differently from the way administrators and faculty do, Chen added.

From these interviews, the structure and revisions for the new Master Plan will shape out, DeWitt said.

"We do not go into the planning process with a plan in mind," he said. "We get a plan from it."

He said he will initially approach interviews as fact-finding sessions.

"We need to know what people do and where they do it," he said. "We need to know how people see the future of their own areas."

These areas range from the heating plant to the dining hall, Chen said. "All these things affect the physical plan," he said.

Chen warned he could not promise anything.

"I represent the College," he said. "We are here to listen to find out what people want to do with their special area of expertise."

Chen said he hopes to establish priorities for the College with the information from the interviews.

After the interviews will come analysis, Chen said.

"After we have talked to people ... and we have gotten priorities for their needs, it is up to us to give some shape to these," he said. "In the broadest sense, it is to give a vision for the College."

Chen said his work would try to preserve much of what exists at the College.

"Nobody will take down Dartmouth Row," he said. "But everyone knows that even though Dartmouth Row looks like it is going to be there forever, things are always changing. As master planners we control that change."

He said the College will solicit a variety of opinions.

"We will work our way throughout the campus talking with not just the obvious people like the Dean of Residential Life and the Dean of the Faculty, but with people like the guys who manage the Hanover Inn and the Dartmouth Skiway," he said.

He said the College wants to find an equilibrium.

"We have to make sure all the facilities are sufficiently run and used," he said. "It all sounds logical and methodical but there is a fair amount of dealing with the heritage of the College. If there is a building that is underutilized but is part of the history of the College, you can not just ream it out and put something fancy there. The whole thing is a balancing act."

The 1989 plan describes the longer context of this work, stating that College "President [James] Freedman is now redirecting the College towards long range planning and is asking the community to think of Dartmouth as a liberal arts university. As the collective consciousness about the institution changes, we expect physical changes as well."

Regarding the addition of a new College Green, the current Master Plan states, "we believe the site [north of Maynard Street] should be planned around linked, smaller open spaces, saving some existing structures, demolishing others in the long term. The smaller scale of these spaces would contract with and thus preserve the grandeur of the Green."

According to the 1989 Master Plan, pedestrian open spaces should be created near Massachusetts and Fayerweather Rows by eliminating the parking there and relocating it to the previous site of the Medical Center. Last fall, the College created a pedestrian walkway in front of Mass Row.

Examples of the new facilities that will be incorporated into the new plan include Sudikoff Computer Laboratories, Burke Chemistry Laboratories and the new building site between Baker and Main Street.

Chen has been involved with planning at the College since 1980 when he was the architect for the Rockefeller Center, which the College completed in 1983.