The college took on new construction projects around campus this summer, including continued construction of the new science center, landscaping to the west of Keefe Campus Center, improvements to Marsh, Plimpton, Moore and Newport dormitories and rearrangement of resource centers in Keefe.
The most prominent project — the new science center, which began in the summer of 2016 and is slated to finish in the summer of 2018 — aimed to create more common spaces and laboratories to foster interdisciplinary partnerships among students of various science departments, according to the college’s website.
“The biology and chemistry departments will share multiple research labs, with student write-up space nearby, which will create opportunities for students involved in different projects to engage with and learn from one another,” the site said.
Dorm improvements were made to create “better … common spaces for student use,” Director of Design and Construction Tom Davies said in an email.
The biggest challenge, Davies said, was “the tremendous amount of construction activity … compressed into the 11 or 12 weeks between reunion [weekend] and when students return for the next semester.”
In addition to the time limits, Davies said the college faced issues in renovating older buildings and discovering hidden conditions that needed attention.
“An interesting example of this was at Marsh, where it was discovered that the large columns’ foundations were largely decayed,” said Davies. “The building was temporarily supported with columns hanging from above, old crumbed foundations removed and new concrete foundations built. This made a very interesting sight for passersby.”
These unexpected difficulties meant that some projects, such as the outside stairs near Keefe and Merrill Science Center, furniture on the balcony of Valentine Hall and the addition of lounge furniture in the improved dorms could not completed over the summer.
Although the completed projects are relatively new, Davies said he has received positive responses showcasing the impact of these improvements.
“The various centers in Keefe Campus Center are excited about the potentials that the new spaces afford them, [such as] the Women’s and Gender Center’s new and larger space on the second floor,” he said.
The new fire pit outside of the campus center has also been used by several student groups and programs.
Davies hopes to continue enhancing other areas around campus.
“The softball field is being improved starting very soon and in time for the next season with dugouts, better batting cages, et cetera,” Davies said.
Currently, Davies said, the new science center remains the focus of his department.
“As the largest project in the college’s history, it demands a great deal of attention,” Davies said.
Miskiyat Jimba ’20 said that she appreciates the renovations to the dormitories and the vision for the science center. She said, however, that students miss the recreation areas in Keefe that disappeared after resource centers were reorganized.
For Siobhan Marks ’20, the loss of “spaces for hanging out,” such as the game room, resulted in Keefe “losing its campus center feel.”
But the addition of the fire pit outside of Keefe is a plus, said Mary Yoo ’20. “I really like the changes … and how they planted trees around Keefe,” she said.
Alejandro Nino ’18 also said “the new spaces have a lot of personality” but believes that the new styles and designs in dormitories are “not very timeless and they’re going to age pretty quickly.”
“I’m curious why we’re moving to a grey brick over the traditional colonial, but I’m excited to see the whole space as a whole and how it comes together with the landscaping they’re putting in,” he said. “I think it’s going to look beautiful in 20 years.”