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The Dartmouth
May 26, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

New computer science and Thayer building designs to be submitted to town for review

Conceptual designs for a new joint building that will host the College’s computer science department and the Thayer School of Engineering will be submitted for review at Hanover’s April 17 planning board meeting. Before work begins on the new building, Dartmouth must first gain construction approval from the town of Hanover.

“We are working with [the construction, planning and design committee] on utility,” Hanover director of planning, zoning and codes Robert Houseman said. “It will be permissible. We will have to see on April 17 what the exact plans are.”

Construction of the $155 million building, which is to be funded entirely through gifts to the College, is set to begin in 2019 and conclude mid-2021. The project is currently in the design phase, while on-site work is scheduled to begin later this year.

The building will be constructed on the west end of campus to accommodate the growing popularity of the computer science and engineering majors, according to Thayer dean Joseph Helble. The new building aims to become a new center of collaboration and innovation on campus, Helble said.

Vice president of planning, design and construction John Scherding said the new building will be similar to the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center and the Black Family Visual Arts Center in both budget and design.

“They are complex buildings with lab and ventilation functions,” Scherding said. “There are wet labs with gases and fume hoods. The new building is expensive, but it is also very large.”

The new building will maintain the collaborative, open spaces embodied by the project-based design labs currently in the Cummings Hall and the MacLean Engineering Sciences Center, Helble said.

Additionally, Scherding added that each of the four floors of the new building will provide shared engineering and computer science classrooms, labs and work spaces. Disciplines within computer science that are synergistic with engineering will be grouped together on certain floors, Scherding said.

According to Helble, robotics labs, 3D printing rooms and Couch Lab 2 also will be added as features of the new building.

“A very important part is bringing computer science, with the digital perspective, in with the objective and physical perspective of engineering to benefit students,” Helble said.

Designed an open floor plan, the first floor will be an atrium with computer science and engineering labs and makerspaces, with DEN and DALI’s offices surrounding the perimeter of the atrium, Scherding said. The building’s exterior and interior will be mostly comprised of glass to provide visibility into the makerspaces and the projects being crafted inside, he added.

“The building is intended to be energizing to walk in[to], to see and feel the innovation and creativity,” Scherding said. “The glass brings in more daylight. It embraces transparency to the programs going on in the building.”

The new building will be constructed in the parking lot beside Cummings Hall and will not affect students’ mobility to move about campus, according to Scherding. There will be clear access for both pedestrians and bicyclists to get to the Thayer buildings or the River residential cluster.

The Dartmouth Entrepreneurship Network and the Digital Arts, Leadership and Innovation Lab will also be relocated to the new building.

The goal was to move DEN and DALI to a central location for greater student accessibility, Helble said.

DEN director Jamie Coughlin said he is excited to have DEN’s relationship with Thayer and the computer science department become closer, both in interdisciplinary projects and physical proximity.

“There will be a more intimate connection to our constituents, building minded students and faculty,” Coughlin said. “We will be near the technology components and engineering minds and also the business minds at [the] Tuck [School of Business].”

Helble added that he believes this is the time for the growth and integration of computer science, engineering and entrepreneurship.

“This is the moment where the physical and digital are really coming together,” Helble said. “We are in the fourth industrial revolution. We are bringing both together to give Dartmouth the opportunity to be a leader in bringing together the digital and physical worlds.”