Will Dartmouth demolish Gilman and Dana?

At Commencement the Board announced the construction of the Williamson Translational Research Building at the hospital (a project announced in 2007) and, more notably here, of a “North Campus Academic Center” (Dartmouth Now via Jon).

The Academic Center will contain classrooms, academic offices for DCHCDS and other programs, and the Dana Biomedical Library, an institution that currently occupies its own building. The Center might be made up of multiple buildings: “Dartmouth director of project management Matt Purcell says that the school … is developing two buildings for its new North Campus Academic Center” (Real Estate Bisnow Boston).

An overlooked document from a conference last month (pdf) includes a rendering of the buildings:

north campus academic center rendering from building congress pdf

Rendering of North Campus Academic Center from May 17, 2012 Massachusetts Building Congress materials, page 9 (pdf).

That brick building behind the new screen on the left is Remsen. Compare this view:

View to northeast from Kellogg Auditorium, with Remsen on the left and Gilman on the right (Google Street View).

The buildings shown in the rendering occupy the sites of Gilman and Dana. Those buildings are not particularly popular, and their demolition would have been good to mention in the press release.

Acknowledging that the rendering probably does not represent a final design, what can be said about the project? It looks better than Gilman. The far block, with its stone (?) cladding, might be the library replacement. The less pretentious near block, of brick-red cast masonry units (?), is probably the classroom building. Between the two is a glazed tower. The sweeping concrete wall and bridge is a bit too Fairchild, but it should improve the circulation in the area and make the Medical School more porous and campuslike.

The rendering above was an interesting one to choose as the representative of this project: it is not the view from the street or from the center of campus. Instead, it looks to the northwest from around the center of the left edge of this aerial:

Aerial showing Dana at center with Gilman just to the southwest (Bing).

If Gilman is to go, the school should save the wonderful (Scotford-designed?) lettering from its entrance and the polite sculpture that is affixed to the east end of the building.

Townscape: The view from Sudikoff.

Street View to north showing Gilman as the terminus of the McLaughlin Cluster axis.

Even though Gilman long predates the McLaughlin Cluster, it provides a not-bad terminus for the Cluster’s main vista. The new academic centers building now has an opportunity to provide an intentional northern end to the axis. Without being heavy-handed or obvious, this building also could provide a gateway to the medical school — perhaps not Seussian gargoyles (a fertile field…) but some acknowledgment, such as a pedestrian passage or an inscribed granite lintel, that this is where one institution ends and another begins.


[Update 07.07.2012: Townscape information and better comparison image added. The gold lettering visible in a photo from The Dartmouth is the salvage-worthy Gilman detail referred to above. It seems from the photo to be painted on the transom. If that panel is removed and is not installed in the replacement building, what happens to it? What happens to all the notable elements that surely are removed from demolished buildings? Until there is a Dartmouth Museum, they could be displayed in the studios at 4 Currier or the VAC. (Dartmouth could indeed build a museum to its own past and stock it with the realia now in the archives.)]

The 122,000-square foot North Campus Academic Center is scheduled to contain:

  • 18 classrooms
  • the Dana Biomedical Library
  • interdisciplinary space for the Geisel School of Medicine; the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice; the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science; and the Department of Sociology

Sources: Dartmouth Now and Tradeline.]

[Update 08.12.2012: There is other lettering at the east end of Gilman as well.]

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