School of Grok

The office of new Provost Carolyn Dever is launching two task forces, one of which is aimed at “evaluating the prospect of giving Dartmouth’s graduate and advanced studies programs a physical plant” (The Dartmouth of September 30; see also The Graduate Forum of October 3, The Dartmouth of October 7).

Dartmouth has operated a number of graduate programs for years. Most are attached to relevant undergraduate departments. Thus the creation of a freestanding school of graduate studies need not involve any expansion; it could be done as an administrative reorganization, and, in theory, it could even result in a streamlining of staff. Whether or not a grad studies building is a goal at the moment, however, a building seems likely. As far back as 2007 the unbuilt design (pdf page 9) for a freestanding Class of 1953 Commons included a Graduate Suite.

Maybe some part of the old hospital site is as good as any; maybe when Dana Library moves out of its temporary location in Home 57, that building could house the School of Graduate Studies. Maybe a new building for Dana could terminate the Berry Row axis and link the Medical School with the Graduate School, as the Murdough Center links Tuck and Thayer.

Of course all this growth became inevitable once the program/school adopted a coat of arms back in 2010.

Coat of arms for Graduate Studies at Dartmouth
Graduate Studies coat of arms, from Graduate Studies

Who dares wins: graduate studies proposals

One of the Strategic Planning reports suggests that Graduate Studies be given a lounge:

The lack of any identifiable social space on the Dartmouth campus is quite striking, in comparison to all our peer institutions who have endowed graduate student centers. The ideal location for this space would be near the center of campus so that it would be easily accessible and also a visible reminder of the presence on graduate students and research on the campus.

(Graduate Education for the Future Working Group Final Report (June 2012), 13.) This desire has surfaced previously in the inclusion of a graduate suite in the original proposal for a ’53 Commons north of Maynard Street (pdf).

Compare this idea proposed by a different working group (WG) focused on research, scholarship, and creativity (RSC):

To meet all these goals, our WG recommends that Dartmouth consider the formation of a new school, the first in over 100 years. The School of Advanced Studies (SAS) would be the first-in-the-nation school focused broadly on advancing RSC for faculty, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and undergraduates. Led by a new Dean reporting directly to the Provost, SAS’s remit would be to advance RSC at Dartmouth across all disciplines and all schools. It would invigorate the research environment at Dartmouth, spearhead better organized decisionmaking on RSC, help attract top talent to Dartmouth from all over the world, create more inclusive and enriching environment for graduate students and post-docs, and foster crossdisciplinary collaboration among faculty as well as undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students. We envision a new facility on central campus that would house SAS and its associated programs, as well as housing for visiting scholars and conference attendees, conference space, and common spaces.

(Research, Creativity and Scholarship Working Group Final Report (June 2012), 5.)

This sounds a bit like the famous Institute for Advanced Study, which occupies a Jens Larson building near Princeton University, but that organization is independent of its local university (see also Wikipedia).

’53 Commons completed

The Class of 1953 Commons project, a renovation of Thayer Dining Hall (The Dartmouth, The Dartmouth), has finished.

Dartmouth Now has an article on the dedication with a flash (!?) slideshow of photos on Flickr. Bruner/Cott also has an image of the main dining room, and a first-floor plan appears on the DDS portion of the college website.

The building’s interior is hard to recognize. The photos show crisp white walls and sunlight replacing the cramped spaces and dim lighting of Thayer’s last renovation, which occurred in the 1980s. The main dining room, the site of Full Fare in the early 1990s and later Food Court, retains its original wooden roof trusses but abandons the painted flower ceiling panels. The south side dining room (Food Court of the early 1990s) is cool and sophisticated. The building now offers dining on the second floor, probably where the miniature convenience store called Topside once was, and perhaps where DDS offices once were.

Outside, the new stair is clad in granite. Irrespective of the changes in the menu, it looks like a nicer place to eat in.

LSC construction wrapping up: the Yard and its paths

The Dartmouth recently published articles on the progress of construction in general and ’53 Commons in particular. The word is that football recruits like the revived Commons.

The designers of the LSC, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, call the rectangular green space framed by the new building “the Yard.” The paved paths look as if they follow routes that have been there for generations, but one has to wonder how the architects knew to put them where they are. The Dartmouth has an article with details about the building, noting that the dedication will take place next month.

The Yard under construction during June

View of LSC

October 10 view of the LSC taken from the webcam

[Update 11.17.2012: Broken link to webcam removed.]

Bruner Cott designed the ’53 Commons renovation of Thayer Dining Hall

53 Commons interior rendering posted on Thayer Hall

Rendering of interior of Class of 1953 Commons posted outside the building

An article in The Dartmouth today credits Bruner Cott with the design of the ongoing Class of 1953 Commons renovation of Thayer Dining Hall.

The identity of the designer of this project has been the object of some curiosity. Initially, Bruner Cott designed a new dining hall to be called the Class of 1953 Commons (pdf) as part of the McLaughlin Cluster. Once food service was available at the north end of campus, the school would have been free to demolish the historic Thayer Dining Hall and replace it with a new dining facility by Kieran Timberlake (see planning document pdf).

The downturn and other factors caused Dartmouth to drop both dining halls and to settle for renovating Thayer, renaming it ’53 Commons. The answer to the question of which firm would get the job has not been answered publicly until recently. (Bruner Cott’s site also lists this project and has a rendering of the main dining room.)

The article is illustrated with a photo depicting nearly the view shown above.

Building items

News notes on construction projects old and new:

  • An anonymous donation has named the fitness center recently installed in the old gymnasium space at the top of Alumni Gym for former Trustee Charles Zimmerman ’23 Tu ’24 (The Dartmouth, Bloomberg).
  • An article in the Valley News on Harris Trail at Hanover and the Class of 1966 Lodge.
  • Health Facilities Management has named the DHMC complex an “icon” and the subject of one of its case studies. The SBRA announcement notes the hospital’s adoption of the shopping mall form.
  • For an example of a remarkable and appropriate setting for a Beverly Pepper sculpture that shares some of the attributes of Thel, see the Weisslers’ amphitheater in New York (New York Times). See also the BLDGBLOG post on Buried Buildings.
  • A building-related issue of The Mirror has some details on the Life Sciences Center.
  • One hopes that the OPDC will get the chance to add a Class of 1953 Commons page to its list of projects.
  • Another Titcomb Cabin update.

[Update 07.06.2013: Sluggish link to SBRA announcement removed.]

Class of 1953 Commons dedicated

The photo accompanying the press release on the recent pre-renovation dedication shows that the word THAYER has been replaced with the words CLASS OF 1953 COMMONS over the door of the building. (The inverted display of the Dartmouth flag is understood to indicate a beverage emergency.)

One of the biggest problems with Thayer seems to be that building’s kitchen gets extremely hot. The Dartmouth reported recently that a 250-ton air conditioning unit will be placed on the building’s roof in the upcoming renovation. Reed Construction Data lists Kieran Timberlake as the architects but seems to describe the earlier full-replacement project, notwithstanding the mere $500,000 cost projection.

Thayer Dining Replacement and ’53 Dining Commons both canceled

The Dartmouth reports that the freestanding Class of 1953 Commons and the Thayer Dining Hall replacement, projects that have been on hold for about a year and a half, have both been canceled. The funds raised for 53 Commons will fund the renovation of the original Thayer Hall instead.

Dartmouth has frequently wrestled with the question of whether to have a single main dining hall or a widely-scattered group of two or more dining halls. Commons in College Hall was the only dining hall from 1901 to 1937, when Thayer Dining Hall opened. But Thayer was just across the street from Commons, and connected by a tunnel — the centrality remained.

Thayer Dining Hall front facade, photo by Meacham

Thayer Dining Hall

About ten years ago, Dartmouth decided to put a new dining hall at the north end of campus as the centerpiece of a group of new dormitories and a polar counterpart to Thayer (see the North Campus Master Plan). Moore Ruble Yudell with Bruner/Cott designed the building, which was to be called the Class of 1953 Dining Commons and can be seen in a series of sketches from the spring of 2007.

Photo of model by Bruner Cott for Class of 1953 Commons

Detail of photo of model of 53 Commons, designed by Moore Ruble Yudell with Bruner/Cott, from 1953 Commons Sketches

This building and a temporary dining hall were to relieve pressure from Thayer so that Thayer could be demolished and replaced by a building designed by Kieran Timberlake. Known in the collegiate context for spare stone dormitories and a glass-walled dining hall at Middlebury, Kieran Timberlake considered renovating Thayer in its Basis of Design (November 3, 2006). The firm’s final proposal involved the complete replacement of Thayer with a new building set back from Mass Row.

Kieran Timberlake footprint for Thayer replacement

Detail of planning alternate 1a from Kieran Timberlake Basis of Design

The firm produced preliminary designs (The Dartmouth) before Dartmouth put the project on hold in the spring or summer of 2008.

Some concern over what appeared to be the Thayer Replacement’s poor preservation practice was expressed here. So although one wishes the circumstances were otherwise, it is good to see that Thayer will survive. No mention has been made of who will handle the renovation, but judging from their stylish renovations of Davenport and Pierson Colleges at Yale, Kieran Timberlake could produce a very interesting design.

[Update 01.17.2010: Both the article in the D and the press release note that Thayer will be renamed the Class of 1953 Commons. The release also emphasizes the preservation aspect and notes that work will begin this summer and end in 2011.]

53 Commons delayed but proceeding in 2010

The delay in construction of the Class of 1953 Commons north of Maynard Street is due to trouble obtaining permits, The Dartmouth reported last month, but the building is still going ahead (October 31 article) and will be built between August 2010 and August 2012 (Capital Projects Schedule October 13, 2008 [pdf]).

[Update 01.05.2013: Two broken links to The Dartmouth repaired.]

[Update 11.18.2008: With the endowment drop (story in The Dartmouth) requiring budget cuts (story in The Dartmouth), some projects are being put on hold, but “We will complete planning already under way for projects which would then require additional financial resources before proceeding to the next phase: Class of 1953 Commons and the C. Everett Koop Medical Science Complex” (November 13 letter from Scherr and Keller).]

Thayer replacement details, delays

Several major projects, including ’53 Commons, the Thayer Dining Hall replacement, and the Visual Arts Center, have been delayed, The Dartmouth reports.

Kieran Timberlake has already shown preliminary designs for the Thayer replacement. The Dartmouth quoted Associate Provost Mary Gorman as noting that the building will be taller than Thayer — tall enough to see over the trees in the cemetery and into Vermont — and will have a nice outdoor space in front of it.

Details of ’53 Commons, Baker Catalogue Room changes

The Development Office has published requests for a number of specific gifts, including the ’53 Commons Terrace. Three zones will occupy the space between the building and Maynard Street: the Portico, which is a collonaded space; the Terrace, which will have space for 100 people to sit and might be stepped downward away from the building; and the South Lawn, which has a White-Housey sound to it and will be the northernmost Lawn at Dartmouth, an equivalent to Baker Lawn.

The Graduate Student Suite in ’53 Commons will be the first headquarters for grad students of the College.

“The Scholars’ Green” is an idea for reinvigorating Baker’s Catalogue Room with comfortable furniture and other amenities. The idea is a good one, although “the Catalogue Room” would be a better name than “the Scholars’ Green.” Experience at other schools has shown that any fancy computers placed here will be used mostly for watching YouTube and that a single espresso machine will set the tone for the whole space.

Plenty of other interesting requests appear, including one for support of College Traditions.

(The profile of the Development Office has been rising, with its new offices (U.K. Architects, 2003) in 41 Centerra Parkway; it even has its own training department with a curriculum for training staffers.)

[Update 11.13.2012: Five broken link to the Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience removed.]

Interim dining hall to be built

The latest project schedule (pdf) provides for the construction of an interim dining hall to take up slack while Thayer is being replaced. This idea was mentioned more than a year ago in The Dartmouth.

It is not clear whether the building itself will be temporary, although the short construction time suggests that it will be. The more temporary it is, the more interesting its siting might be…

[Update 11.12.2012: Broken link to news article fixed.]

Master plan to be updated

The Trustees recently discussed updates to Lo-Yi Chan‘s 2001 master plan and the designs for the Visual Arts Center, the Life Sciences Building, the Class of 1953 Commons, and the New Thayer Dining Hall (press release).

Peter Bohlin, whose firm is designing the Life Sciences Building, designed a nature center building for the Vermont Institute of Natural Science not far from Hanover in Queechee, Vermont.

[Update 11.12.2012: Broken link to VINS pdf replaced with generic link to website.]

’53 Commons renderings released

The Class of ’53 Commons project page is up, providing plans and elevation drawings for Dartmouth’s second major dining hall. The building will stand behind Dick’s House and feature a south-facing colonnade behind a lawn (see perspective rendering).

What appears to be the new headquarters of the Office of Residential Life will occupy the ’53 Commons as well (see second-level plan).

Various building topics

The Dartmouth and Vox have covered a number of building-related topics recently:

[Update 11.10.2012: Broken link to Records Management fixed.]