College shares building plans

by Zachary Goldstein | 10/15/03 5:00am

The College revealed further details about campus construction plans at a Collis Commonground event yesterday afternoon for interested students. Dean of the College James Larimore and Mary Gorman from the Provost's office elaborated on the academic, residential and dining construction plans announced last month at Convocation, and displayed models of the proposed buildings.

The construction and expansion of important academic building is the first priority, according to Gorman, who said that the new Kemeny building, which will be the future home of the math department, is "ready to go, but we need more money." That building, which will replace Bradley Hall and sit behind Carson, is currently in the "construction documents" phase, meaning it is "ready to be handed off to the constructor," Gorman said. Construction of Kemeny is expected to begin in the next year and will work around Bradley until it nears completion.

In addition to consolidating the mathematics department under one roof, the new building will be home to the Leslie Center for Humanities, the Dickey Center and the Ethics Institute.

Other academic construction projects include an addition to the Sudikoff building, which has been "funded, approved by the town and ready to move forward," Gorman said, with construction likely beginning next week. A 60,000 square foot addition to the Thayer School of Engineering is currently in the construction document phase.

In addition to academic buildings, however, an equally high priority is the creation of new beds on campus -- 500 new beds, to be exact.

"We want to be able to provide housing for any student who want to be on campus," Gorman said. "And the town would like us to provide more housing on campus."

This need will be filled, at least in part, with the construction of a new 300-bed residence hall north of Maynard Street. The two dormitories (tentatively named East and Central) will each consist of three interconnected buildings three or four floors high. Each floor will have study lounges and a kitchen.

"Around 70 percent will be two-room doubles," said Dean of Residential Life Martin Redman, "with the balance being singles. And there may be a couple four or five room suites."

This 300-bed complex is about 50 percent smaller in size than the proposed six-floor, 500-bed residence hall that had been proposed last year.

"We had to ask ourselves, 'does this really fit in?'" Gorman said. "We decided the smaller buildings are most keeping with the kinds of building on campus."

The new residence hall is expected to begin construction by September 2004, and should take 18 to 24 months to complete.

However, the downsizing of the Maynard residence hall has left the need for 200 beds elsewhere on campus to complete the 500-bed addition allotted by the Board of Trustees. The College is currently looking at a 60,000 square foot, 120 to 150 bed building on Tuck Mall. That would still leave 50 to 80 beds necessary elsewhere on campus, at an undetermined location.

"One constraint," said Larimore, "is that we cannot build on top of current housing. So tearing down the Choates and building there is not an option."

Even with the addition of 500 new beds on campus, the net gain will only be around 125 rooms, according to Redman, because with the addition of new rooms the Office of Residential Life will be decompressing old rooms, such as those originally intended as doubles but currently being used as triples.

The development of a new dining and social complex near the new Maynard residence halls has also been under development, but has proceeded at a much slower pace than the other projects. The proposed dining hall would be 60,000 square feet, capable of seating 600 students and would become the primary dining hall on campus. It would also incorporate multipurpose and performance spaces. However, the planning of the new dining building is only in the schematic phase of development.

The Commonground event was lightly attended, but those students that did participate seemed most concerned with the styling of the new buildings. The students expressed a preference for a more Georgian-style building as opposed to more modern additions to the campus such as Carson, home to the history department.