College's master plan sees northern exposure

by Nicole Tsong | 10/22/98 5:00am

The boundaries of the College, though seemingly static -- the Connecticut River, Wheelock St. -- are in perpetual change, with new lines being drawn all the time.

Lo-Yi Chan '54, the campus master planner, mapped out the previous campus master plan in 1989, an update to a 1983 plan.

But then the boundaries shifted.

"Suddenly we bought the hospital," Chan said. "Suddenly the rules changed."

In a new master plan, presented to the public in an information session yesterday, Dartmouth is visibly expanding north. Concrete evidence of the changes include the hole for Berry library growing north of Baker and the new psychology building looming on the campus's northern horizon.

People instantly focused on the large block of land. As soon as the school acquired the hospital land, "you could hear the rumblings of, 'We should build there,'" Chan said.

With the addition of Berry Library, the area has great potential. "Students are going to want to congregate there," Chan said. "I think it is going to be a big, smash success."

The bull market has also added to the rumblings, he said.

With the growth in the College's assets, Chan said there has been a lot more pressure to build.

One of the pressing problems that the extra land space can potentially solve is the lack of student housing on campus.

The needs for beds on campus has grown as the College loses beds to fire safety codes, fewer students go abroad and students bring more things with them to campus.

"You kids have more stuff," Chan told The Dartmouth in an interview. "When I was here, we didn't have computers and printers."

According to Chan, the school needs between 200 and 250 more beds.

"That's like two Topliffs," he said.

There are currently plans for an 80-bed addition to the East Wheelock cluster, but Chan said there is still a great need for more dormitories so that students have the option to live on campus if they want to.

Students may eventually find themselves living in residence halls far north of central campus, he added. North campus and Webster Avenue are the two sites with the greatest potential for new dormitories, Chan said.

President James Wright has initiated discussion on dormitories that would house as few as 35 students. Ideas "as far out as townhouses" have also been proposed, Chan said.

Construction north of Maynard St. will eventually include buildings for academic departments, including biology.

But the expansion to the North cannot not be too rapid, Chan warned. The area should remain a land bank for the future.

He said the sentiment from administrators and trustees has been to "build math next to Berry and [then] let's stop for awhile."

As the campus grows, Chan said the master plan must consider the preservation of old buildings and connection of new buildings on the campus.

He urged Trustees and alumni to take a more responsible approach to the preservation of the campus.

"The basis for preservation now is largely emotional," Chan said. "The trustees won't allow anyone to mess with anything."

But the College needs to look at preservation on a more intellectual level, he said, including grouping the importance of buildings and working on the future of the campus from there.

By raising consciousness about the campus buildings and their historic importance, the people using the buildings will become more aware of how to preserve and perpetuate the aesthetic of Dartmouth, Chan added.

One other essential principle that goes into his planning is connecting the campus.

"The College should develop some very flexible guidelines ... that balance the desire for a building as a work of art with a connection to the campus," Chan said.

Kiewit Computation Center is one of the buildings that has not connected to the campus very well, regardless of its fairly central location.

"It's like a temple that stands by itself," Chan said.

Audience members at the information session questioned Chan about the lack of space allocated for parking. Chan said there are plans for remote parking on the northern part of campus that would require a more efficient shuttle system than is currently in place.

Parking has long been an issue on campus, due to overcrowding and long walks to parking lots. But Chan said it is " the price we pay for a largely pedestrian campus."

Chan works with fellow alum and Director of Facilities Planning Gordon DeWitt on College plans and projects.