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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

College engages in construction push across campus

Renovations to the Hopkins Center, Rauner Special Collections Library and Dartmouth dorms have begun on campus.

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The expansion of the Hopkins Center for the Arts, renewal of the Rauner Special Collections Library and the first phase in a long-term initiative to renovate 60% of residence halls are all part of an ongoing campus construction plan this fall. 

The Hopkins Center 

The College began renovations at the Hopkins Center in December 2022 to add a new 15,000 square-foot wing and remodel 55,000 square feet of existing space. Following the completed renovation, which is expected in 2025, visitors will have access to state-of-the-art technologies such as a performance lab, augmented documentation technology in the Spaulding Auditorium, improved acoustics throughout the building and a focus on accessibility. 

“Opening up [the Hopkins Center] will be a process,” Josh Keniston, senior vice president of campus operations, said. “But because they are technically complex spaces, there will be a period of time where we actually are testing the spaces out and figuring out how to use all the new equipment. That will all happen in 2025.”

Dartmouth has allocated $88 million to the renovations as part of the the Call to Lead fundraising campaign. Nearly 100,000 donors have committed more than $3.77 billion to the campaign, which “really reflects the impact of the Hop both in the community and alums that are really excited about where we're going,” Keniston said. 

Rauner Special Collections Library 

The $6.5 million construction project on the exterior of Rauner Library will restore the 116-year-old building’s roof and mend damage to cracked copper detailing, cornices and decorative corbels, according to Rauner Library’s website. The project began this past summer but will slow in the winter, when masonry work on the back steps and brickwork is difficult to perform, Keniston said. 

“For some of our buildings, where they develop small cracks and water gets in there, the freeze-thaw cycle can accelerate that deterioration,” Keniston said. “And so [Rauner Library] deteriorated more quickly than we expected, which is why we’re now doing that project.” 

The library will remain fully open to students and the public throughout construction, with continued access to study spaces, the Special Collections’ texts and classrooms, according to Dartmouth News. 

Officials at the library, led by Rauner Library head Jay Satterfield, have worked to limit disruptions to student life, Rauner Library fellow Elizabeth Hadley ’23 said. 

“Jay Satterfield is very good about making sure that the construction noise kind of halts during classes,” Hadley said. “So he’ll send an email to the [construction] team and say, ‘We need it to be quiet during these times,’ so disruptions during classes don’t happen.”  

Campus Housing 

The College intends to renovate 60% of current undergraduate housing, beginning with Andres Hall, Zimmerman Hall and Brace Commons in East Wheelock House. Andres will re-open this fall, while Zimmerman and Brace Commons will remain under construction until the fall of 2024, according to the College’s Campus Services website.

These housing renovations aim to “update the buildings, create a more comfortable living environment for students and also to improve the layout,” Keniston said. Though upperclassmen are not ensured on-campus housing, Keniston added that Dartmouth will “continue to have students living at Summit on Juniper,” an off-campus and privately-owned residential community that predominantly houses graduate students.

Garrett Chao ’24, who currently lives at Summit on Juniper, described his residential experience to be mostly positive due to the complex’s amenities — such as a gym, personal washer-dryer unit, shower and kitchen. He added, however, that the main drawback is “its distance from campus,” as it takes 20 minutes to get to and from campus. 

While off-campus housing is an option for upperclassmen, Chao added that “it is probably not a major solution to the housing crisis.”  

Looking forward, College President Sian Leah Beilock announced in her inaugural address that Dartmouth will introduce “at least 1,000 new beds for undergraduate, graduate, staff and faculty housing within the next decade.” The College also unveiled construction plans on 25 West Wheelock Street and the North End Project to satisfy this commitment. 

Beilock also announced in her inaugural address “an aggressive push to achieve carbon zero on campus.” While new buildings will limit the addition of carbon, Keniston said renovations on pre-existing housing are “climate efficient” to make them environmentally sound.

“Renovated buildings feature certain dynamics of old brick buildings, meaning that there are limits to how much insulation you can put in,” Keniston said. “New buildings, on the other hand, will be held to incredibly high standards. Dartmouth’s ultimate goal is to improve the overall efficiency of the buildings, including implementing non-combustion technology to heat and cool the buildings.”