The inevitable demolition news

First, the Brown game takes place today. It will be the last game played before Jens Larson’s 1923 West Stands at Memorial Field. The steel-framed concrete seating terraces will be demolished and removed from behind the brick facade, which will remain, beginning this week.

Second, The Dartmouth reports that:

The College also plans to rebuild the Ledyard Clubhouse. The clubhouse, which used to house a few students, was vacated last fall following water intrusion and mold buildup. Hogarty said the College will eliminate the residential component when Ledyard is rebuilt.

“Rebuilt” means “replaced,” of course. This news has also been a long time coming. Students have been designing replacements for years — the original 1930 building was designed by a student, in fact — and the Milone & Macbroom Riverfront Master Plan showed a replacement building in the long term. It is worth mentioning that the Ledyard Monument is not in its original location and so probably needn’t be kept where it is.

Ledyard Canoe Club interior photo by Meacham

Interior of Ledyard looking north in 2005

Third, the focus of the article in The Dartmouth is the news that the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge feasibility study recommends demolishing and replacing the Lodge. Maclay Architects, which conducted the study, includes a drawing of the main (west) facade of a possible Ravine Lodge replacement:

detail of Maclay drawing of MRL facade

Detail of Maclay drawing of west facade of new Ravine Lodge

The drawing shows a building that seems both grander and more rustic, or more self-consciously rustic, than the 1938 Lodge. It lacks the extremely broad gable of the old lodge, but it has a signature form of its own. Maclay has extensive timber-framing experience, and with big logs scarce these days, this lodge appears to be a timber-framed building clad in shingles.

The Board of Trustees could decide whether to demolish the old building in the spring.

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The new Alpha Phi house

From some angles, Haynes & Garthwaite‘s new Alpha Phi sorority house on North Park Street recalls the old Sigma Phi Epsilon house on Webster Avenue:

Meacham photo of Sigma Phi Epsilon and The Dartmouth photo of Alpha Phi

Top: Sigma Phi Epsilon (1896 and 1963, demolished 2010). Bottom: Alpha Phi (2012), photo by Tracy Wang courtesy of The Dartmouth.
More photos are available at Trumbull-Nelson.

In other North Park news, The Dartmouth reports that the school is planning to create an LGBT house on the street. The Valley News writes:

Hanover — Dartmouth College will move forward with plans to open a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender student residence in 2014, a project that has been the longtime goal of a college advisor who has been working on the plan for more than a dozen years.

[Update 11.04.2012: T-N photos link and VN quote added.]

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Piazza Nervi

I. Background

The site where Leverone Field House and Thompson Arena face each other across South Park Street, with a couple of houses in between, is an interesting one (Google Maps aerial, aerial, street view entering from the south). It is getting some attention these days.

Leverone forecourt

Leverone Field House forecourt in June 2005

First, the transit report proposes a bus shelter here (pdf).

Second, Athletic Director Harry Sheehy commented in an interview in the Alumni Magazine that the school needs another field house. Chase Fields seems a likely site, and the building could even take over a part of the Thompson parking lot facing South Park Street.

Third, the owner of the private house just below the entrance to the parking lot, at 31 1/2 South Park Street, has demolished the building and is replacing it with a three-story building containing a dental office with apartments above (Planning Board minutes Sept. 13 (pdf); see also Planning Board minutes Sept. 6 (pdf)).

All of this activity gets one thinking about the two old houses in front of Thompson Arena at 25 and 27 South Park Street, both designed by Jens F. Larson.

Thompson Arena forecourt in June 2005

Thompson Arena forecourt in June 2005 showing 25 and 27 South Park

On the one hand, the presence of the two houses preserves the historic appearance of the east side of the street and maintains the rhythm of solids and voids that stretches all the way up to Wheelock Street. Number 29, the Fire & Skoal house, is also a Larson product.

The view that the houses frame is interesting and surprising — it looks like there is some kind of hangar back there, and a walk along the beach-flat ground that reveals the ribs and upturned hulk of Thompson behind the brown shingled house can create a nautical impression. Removing the houses to create a plaza would be a bit arbitrary: very few people actually walk from the front door of Leverone to the front door of Thompson.

site plan

Site plan

On the other hand, the two Nervi buildings were meant to face each other, and the two houses have always been meant to come out. Master plans have long proposed that the houses be removed and a plaza be constructed to link the two concrete arenas. The 2007 Landscape Master Plan included such a proposal (pdf). The 2000 student life master plan (pdf) notes that the entry into Thompson Arena is obscured by existing houses along Park Street:

There are, however, opportunities to reinforce the entry to Thompson Arena by moving or demolishing the College-owned houses on Park Street in front of the current entry. Doing so would relate the Arena to its cousin, Leverone Field House, both designed by Pier Luigi Nervi, and complete an intention planned but never realized.

II. Proposal

The two Larson houses at 25 and 27 could be moved across the street, above Cobra, and a plaza could be built in their place.

proposed site plan


The plaza would be difficult to make uniform in footprint. The two Nervi buildings do not face each other directly. Each stands a different distance from the street and rises to a different height.

Piazza Nervi would become the student entrance to the whole Chase Fields complex. Pedestrians walking down Park Street would swing diagonally across the Thompson forecourt and then head eastward. The present route into the parking lot is relatively convoluted and disappointing.

As a bonus, the piazza could tie into a new path cut westward through the Crosby-Park block. The need for this path to Lebanon Street, the only cross-block route between Wheelock and Summer Streets, has been obvious for years, and the Ped/Bike Master Plan released in October (pdf) recommends it. A long brick wall built to shield the neighbors’ houses could serve as a venue for a horizontal climbing race put on by the DOC: speed-bouldering.

III. Conclusion

The new piazza would be the first work of architecture of any kind in Hanover — whether a plaque, monument, room, or building — dedicated to an architect.

It would make a nice gateway for drivers entering the campus from the southeast. That might be its most important function.

The danger is that Piazza Nervi would be a windswept Modernist wasteland: there is a fine line between minimalism and barrenness. But something good is possible.

Thompson detail

Thompson Arena side entrance in June 2005

Leverone front facade

Leverone Field House front facade in June 2005


[Update 11.17.2012: Broken link to oblique image fixed.]

[Update 06.10.2012: Link to and quote from 2000 master plan added. Thanks to Big Green Alert: The Blog for the link here and ideas.]

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Renovating the Buskey Building (7 Allen Street)

UK Architects of Hanover have designed a renovation of the ground floor of the Buskey Building, a 1978 commercial block at 7 Allen Street, just past EBAs. The building’s second level is connected to the rear of the bookstore by a bridge: this is where the bookstore had its music department during the early 1990s.

Buskey Building Hanover

The Buskey Building in June 2005

Google’s Street View images, taken in the past few years, show the space as Omer & Bob’s Sport Shop, empty at the time of the photo and with a leasing sign in the window.

The client for this project is new health clinic for college employees called Dartmouth Health Connect (Dartmouth Now, The Dartmouth, Valley News; see also Forbes).

A rendering of the new interior is available at Dartmouth Now.

[Update 11.17.2012: Broken link to DHC fixed.]

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Fraternity to demolish historic Webster Avenue house

Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity is planning to demolish its 1896 house at 11 Webster Avenue. It will submit its application for site plan review to the Planning Board on April 20th.

Historic Sigma Phi Epsilon House at Dartmouth before demolition

11 Webster Avenue in 2005

The clapboard house, attributed to Boston architects Dwight & Chandler, was built for math professor Thomas W.D. Worthen of the Class of 1872. The house was part of an original row of six contemporary faculty dwellings by the same firm.

The society occupied the house for more than 50 years and added the large righthand wing by well-known local architects Alfred T. Granger & Associates in 1958.

The fraternity has obtained a special exception [ZBA Minutes 02.04.2010 pdf] from the zoning board to erect a new building on the site.

Sig Ep’s house is not the most exciting one on the Avenue, but still, the Town should ask the group to document the existing structure before demolishing it (Claremont documents the historic buildings it demolishes).

Better yet, the fraternity should voluntarily document its own house before tearing it down. Although not the same as preservation, it would be better than nothing.

[Update 01.13.2013: Broken links to two pdfs removed.]
[Update 05.01.2010: Sig Ep at Wisconsin, rebuilding its house after a fire, had to win approval for the design from the local Landmarks Commission. The house is located in a historic district.]

[Update 07.28.2010: The Dartmouth has a drawing of the front facade of the replacement. Planning Board minutes (04.20.2010 pdf) suggest that Domus, Inc. of Etna is participating in the project.]

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The Gym’s stair

The Athletics website has an update on the Gym renovation. One of the photographs shows the upper drill hall, which the project will return to the industrial space it really is.

One of the first things the College did when it took over the Gym from the alumni was to add a central north stair to the eastern and western runs that already led to the main entrance. Now the school is replacing that narrow central run with a single broad main stair and substituting bicycle racks for the eastern run and a ramp for the western (see plan [pdf]). One expects that the ramp nevertheless will see the greatest use, since most people arrive from the west. The chunky cornerstone, laid by President Ernest Fox Nichols at his inauguration on October 14, 1909, may be obscured by the ramp.

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Baker post-renovation

Three views of the renovated Baker Library:

Dartmouth photo

The welcome desk above follows almost exactly the form of the earlier circulation desk, but with paneling depicted rather than attached. Now patrons enter the Berry addition through the librarians’ old passage to the stacks. Note the new colors for the library’s main hall, presumably based on historic colors.

Dartmouth photo

The reflection prevents this photo from showing that one of the display cases has been removed to make a window onto the passage leading back to Berry.

Dartmouth photo

As another local instance of outside becoming inside, an exterior wall of the original Baker stacks now lines the passage to Berry. VSBA installed a door here.

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