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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Admins Announce New Construction

<r nearly three years, Carleton’s administrators have worked to craft a facilities plan, a detailed description of where all new buildings will go and what they will look like.

This past Monday, Treasurer Fred Rogers and Associate Dean Fernan Jaramillo announced the results to the student body.

The most significant changes might come to science facilities – updates prompted by necessity, Jaramillo explained.

“Carleton doesn’t have great science programs because of its facilities.  It has great science programs despite its facilities,” he said.

Tangible problems the committee found include obsolete labs, inadequate infastructure, a lack of office space, rigid design, and a weak computer network.  
Furthermore, the departments are largely isolated from each other.  Since science research increasingly demands an interdisciplinary approach, that presents a problem, according to Jaramillo.

To make matters worse, enrollment in science classes has climbed steadily over the past years, straining available space and resources.

Jaramillo, Rogers, and their colleagues decided that science space needed to increase by a third to keep up.  The new construction will connect Hulings and Mudd and will contain office space and spaces for “more interdisciplinary education.”

Hulings itself, the most modern building of the science complex, will probably dodge the demolition crews.   On the other hand, Mudd and Olin are in for a substantial facelift to bring them into the twenty-first century.

With the new construction,  the current occupants of Hulings, Mudd, and Olin will also be getting some new neighbors.  The new construction will provide biology, chemistry, physics, and geology with more space than they need.   So the rapidly growing computer science department will vacate the jam-packed CMC  and move to the science complex.  Math majors will have the CMC to themselves. 

Furthermore, under the new plan, history and political science students might be headed to the science complex from across the Bald Spot.  Rogers said that outdated science classrooms could be converted to “low-intensity uses” like humanities and social science classrooms if space is needed.
The committee’s second focus was room for music.  The need is obvious.

“I think it’s an understatement to say that the facilities we have don’t support our music program in the best way,” Rogers joked, “We have buckets in some places.”
And while music majors might be few and far between, nearly 30% of the student body will enroll in a music course throughout the year.

Moreover, Carleton’s existing music buildings are not just dog-eared, they’re downright poorly-designed.   The Concert Hall has a third of the backstage area it should, and because the rehearsal room is right under the stage, students can’t practice while a performance is going on.  That’s one reason that four separate studies have recommended tearing it down, Rogers said.

The new plan will let wrecking balls fly at last.  Budding musicians will get newly-built digs in the Weitz, which currently houses their creative cohorts including drama and dance.  The new addition will go in the building’s southeast corner – facing downtown Northfield, not the Chapel, and running along Central Park.

The new building will not provide quite enough space to accommodate all of Music’s needs, so faculty offices will have to go somewhere else, Rogers said.  Parish House,  which is  the right size and is right across from the Wetiz, is a leading candidate for the job.  It will be taken out of the Room Draw pool, gutted, and converted into office space. 

If musicians migrate southward, there will also be hand-me-down space available in Old Music Hall.  That space, Rogers said, could also be filled by humanities classes – a layout that would dovetail nicely, given that Laird and Leighton are nearby.

Plans are also underway to renovate Scoville.  The Gothic building was once the school’s library.  It was “maybe the most beautiful college library in the Midwest,” Rogers said, with open floor plans, high arches, and grand staircases.  Now it is a somewhat shabby-looking home to the GSC, OIILL, and the Writing Center.  CAMS left when the Weitz opened.

Rogers and Jaramillo want to “restore it to its former glory” and make it the home for the Admissions and Financial Aid departments.  It will be the “first impression visiting students have of Carleton,” Rogers said.

OILL and the GSC will head to Sayles.  Their move is part of  a larger reorganization of office space in the campus center.  As part of that, the Career Center and the Center for Community and Civic Engagement  would move to Johnson House, vacated by Admissions .

The Writing Center, meanwhile, will move to the library.  Librarian’s offices, and a left-side alcove, will be repurposed for the ASC’s (Academic Support Center) use.

The Committee’s final objective concerned student residences.  The school plans to add more “independent living options” – houses – along Union Street.  Construction crews will also renovate currently available houses to add more beds.

Nothing, however, can go forward until the school has raised enough money.  They will need to get quite a bit.  Rogers estimated roughly that the plans for science alone would cost $70 million.  Music would cost $30 million.  At $6 million, the Scoville shuffle would be cheapest.  The school might have to take on some debt, he said, but any such loans would be small. 

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