VAC excavators hit a ledge

The Visual Arts Center project is starting to move along:

  • Bruce Wood at the Big Green Alert Blog had a photo of the VAC excavation in a post back in August (direct link to photo). Ephemeral views like this one showing the Hood’s rear facade are always interesting.
  • The Dartmouth had interesting news on the discovery of a larger-than-anticipated granite ledge under the Visual Arts Center site. One gets the sense that to a North Country builder, a “ledge” is a very particular thing, and always under ground. Since the nineteenth century there have been lawsuits over unexpected ledges, and contractors had to use dynamite to create a foundation for Richardson Hall in College Park.
  • The Dartmouth notes some of the future building’s features in a construction-related issue of The Mirror.

    Eking out progress on the Visual Arts Center

    Bruce Wood at the Big Green Alert Blog has some up-to-date photos of the site preparations.

    Numerous plans and bidding documents are now on line. The Trustees report saving almost $10 million by refining the contractor bidding process. Building contractor Berry has a project page up.

    The architects have their VAC page back up, but without significant information. The school’s design office has been able to go a year without updating their general projects page, indicating the depth of the slowdown.

    The latest Alumni Magazine notes the critique of an architect, that the VAC does not fit into its context. Comments available at NPR and The Chronicle say similar things. It will be interesting to see the final result of this project, considering that much of the building’s context is not red brick at all, which is what the critics seem to refer to. The building will stand right across the street from C&A Pizza:

    View Larger Map

    [Update 03.31.2013: Broken link to Berry & Son removed.]

    Buildings – construction, some demolition

    Rauner Library has provided a remarkable photo of the Butterfield Museum embraced in a death-hug by Baker Library. This is a view of the south and east facades of the east wing of Baker, looking to the northwest. The problem of Butterfield appears to have had a significant influence on the design of Baker.

    See also the photos of the bells and the steel frame of the tower under construction.

    With historic Clement Hall demolished (film and photos), the Visual Arts Center construction has been put out for bid.

    Phi Delt reconstruction continues, The Dartmouth reports.

    Engleberth Construction provides photos of the Tuck Living-Learning Center (Achtmeyer, Raether, and Pineau-Valencienne Halls).

    It is not new, but Forever New: A 10-Year Report provides a comprehensive photo of the interior-block facades of Kemeny-Haldeman not available elsewhere.

    Brewster Hall demolished, Clement Hall is next

    Now that the Spaulding Auditorium loading docks have been reconfigured (see the Google Street View of the construction — Hanover is now available in Street View, by the way), the Visual Arts Center can go ahead as planned. William A. Berry & Son, Inc. is managing the construction. The architects’ project page has not returned yet.

    Brewster Hall has been demolished, and Clement Hall will be torn down during the first week in February (The Dartmouth).

    [Update 03.31.2013: Broken link to Berry & Son removed.]

    4 Currier and its metal-clad top level

    The office building at 4 Currier Place, designed by Truex Cullins (project page) for the Dartmouth Real Estate office (rental page) is nearing completion. Guy C. Denechaud’s article in the Valley Business Journal notes that Dartmouth has not put this much office space on the market in years.

    [Update 11.17.2012: Broken link to rental page removed.]
    [Update 08.31.2013: Broken link to project page replaced.]

    The Visual Arts Center will open in 2012

    The college finished the renovations of two old buildings for sororities (The Dartmouth), is still planning to go ahead with a small number of other projects (The Dartmouth) including the Visual Arts Center (The Dartmouth).

    The latest Capital Projects Schedule [pdf] has construction starting early next spring and finishing in September of 2012. The architects have not reinstated their initial page for the project.

    Visual Arts Center gets planning permission

    The Planning Board’s hearing of the VAC plans was delayed, and the Valley News gave the sense that some town residents wanted the Board to step outside its role and begin acting as an architectural review commission. But approval was not seriously in doubt when the hearing did take place (The Dartmouth, Valley News).

    Town residents’ opposition seems to be consistently varied: some say the building is too urban, some not urban enough (or is inconsistent with the new-urbanist town plan). Some say it is too modern, some say it is not modern (or original) enough. The most interesting quote in the VN story is the criticism that the building is “a shameless copy of architecture that has existed in this country for decades.” Those words are usually used against traditional styles such as neo-Georgian (sometimes “pseudo-Georgian”) architecture as seen in buildings like Brewster Hall, which is being demolished for the Visual Arts Center.

    Visual Arts Center finally going ahead

    After postponing the decision, the Board of Trustees finally voted on June 12 to build the Visual Arts Center on Lebanon Street, designed by Machado & Silvetti Associates (renderings). Dartmouth’s largest-ever gift, a $50 million donation from an anonymous family, will allow the project to go forward.

    Work on reconfiguring the nearby loading dock of Spaulding Auditorium to make space for the Arts Plaza begins on June 15, according to The Dartmouth. Studios will move from Clement to 4 Currier Street after it opens this fall, Clement (and Brewster) will be demolished, and construction on the Center will begin in the spring of 2010 and conclude in the fall of 2012 (capital projects schedule pdf).

    [Update 12.02.2012: Broken link to Arts Plaza section of Dartmouth Experience site removed.]

    Machado & Silvetti revise Arts Center design

    New renderings of the Visual Arts Center have appeared on the Project Page. Where an early page by the firm stated an area of 80,000 square feet, and articles accompanying the initial renderings pegged the building at 96,500 to 99,500 square feet, the “revised program analysis,” surprisingly, identified a need for more area rather than less: it’s now at 105,000 square feet.

    The November renderings show a building that seems to have the same basic form and numbers of bays as before. The renderings include plans for the first time. The idea of ground-level retail does not seem to have survived, but the artist-in-residence gets a fantastic perch in the lantern above the campus-side entrance.

    Elevation drawings also emerge for the first time, along with contextual views from Lebanon Street and a site plan and photo of a model showing the plaza framed by Spaulding.

    There are also images of a sectional model of the arts forum, which is the atrium close to the Lebanon Street entrance, and other views.

    This building should look expensive.

    [Update 01.10.2009: Two watercolors by Jeff Stikeman have been added.]

    Visual Arts Center seems to be going ahead

    Although the Provost’s November 13 letter stated that the Visual Arts Center project would be delayed up to six weeks for a reassessment, the Valley News reported that the school is going ahead with this one before the Planning Board.

    The Center will open in March 2012 (VAC project page, projects schedule [pdf]).

    The commercial building that Dartmouth’s real estate office is erecting south of Lebanon Street at 4 Currier Street is well under way, as the regular photos taken from behind C&A Pizza show.  The building will start out housing the Studio Art Department while Clement is demolished and the Visual Arts Center is built.  Demolition of Clement, along with Brewster Hall and the oil bunker that serves the Heating Plant, will begin in May of 2009.

    [Update 12.17.2008: The Big Green Alert Blog recently quoted the VN article’s quotation of John Scherding of OPDC “as saying the college ‘intend(s) to keep moving forward,’ on the project.”]

    Visual Arts renderings published

    The Visual Arts project page now has renderings available.

    Now the public can see what so distressed some members of the College-formed committee of town advisors.

    The building seems inoffensive. The entrances are glassy but the building is dominated by stone surfaces and reads as a solid mass from which openings have been punched, not as a Modernist affront to solidity and gravity. A blogger notes that the Norwegian slate ought to work well in Hanover’s climate. The building is not especially tall. It preserves what’s left of College Street and uses the former street to create a view of the Hood.

    A Valley News editorial describes the building as “aggressively urban,” but it seems no more aggressive than Hanover’s other urban buildings, and far less hostile to Hanover than Spaulding Auditorium is. The Center’s entrance on Lebanon Street shows what Spaulding should have done. Perhaps this example will encourage Dartmouth to build an addition to Spaulding’s south and west facades containing offices, shops, and a true public entrance for the auditorium that leads to a full-sized theater lobby.

    Visual Arts entrance

    Detail of Lebanon Street entrance in south facade

    Someone should document Clement Hall

    The former automobile dealership of Clement Hall, whose main block was built in 1914 using mill construction, will be demolished within days. The Dartmouth. Many governments require landowners seeking permission to demolish historic buildings to mitigate the effects of the destruction of history at least somewhat by documenting the building to HABS standards. While Dartmouth has announced its voluntary compliance with regulations designed to protect the natural environment, it seems to lag behind others, including state schools, when it comes to the cultural environment. One hopes that a basic set of large-format black and white photographs, at least, will survive after Clement Hall is torn down.

    Arts Center — another view

    The article in The Dartmouth has a depiction of the Visual Arts Center from another angle:

    visual arts center

    image from The Dartmouth

    The story in the Valley News, in which one person on a College committee of town advisors calls the building “hideous,” has been picked up by the Nashua Telegraph, the Boston Globe, Burlington’s WPTZ tv, the [Laconia?] Foster’s Daily Democrat, and others.

    It is unfortunate that the materials presented to the committee are not available on line, and that readers have only the two images from which to judge the design. It is also unfortunate that some of the committee members quoted failed to give thoughtful reasons to object to the design. Dartmouth will probably ask for more than unsubstantiated, unsophisticated gut reactions before it considers redesigning this building.

    For example, calling the design too “urban” is like calling the Green too “grassy.” The site is urban, as is all of downtown Hanover. This part of Hanover is not a traditional New England village, it’s an ex-automobile dealership located between an industrial heating plant and a faux-industrial auditorium. The site is presently occupied by a parking lot, some College lawns, an industrial building, and a prettified one-time workers’ housing unit. A portion of Lebanon Street might be a part of the campus in a technical sense, but it is not in an aesthetic sense. The arts center does not belong on the site of Parkhurst, and Parkhurst does not belong here.

    Critics who term the design “Southwestern” might be reacting to the way the wall colorings are depicted in the renderings. The renderings available on line do not do justice to the complex natural coloration of the building’s large panels of slate cladding. These panels are probably black lace rust slate from Norway and can be seen in photographs at Vermont Structural Slate and in the Harvard architects’ design for a branch of the Boston Public Library (Flickr search; a particularly nice photo). People will walk up to this building just to touch it.

    [Update 11.17.2012: Broken links to Telegraph and WPTZ removed.]

    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.

    Visual Arts Center page on architects’ site

    The Dartmouth provided an update on the Visual Arts Center, and the designers have an unlinked project page that states:

    A new facility for the college’s Studio Art and Film and Television departments, the Visual Art Center represents the consolidation in of two related programs for the first time in the college’s history. The new center occupies a prime location and consequently must function not only as an educational space, but also as a new entrance to the both the campus and the arts precinct. An 80,000 square foot building, stretching along a length of Lebanon Street from the Facility Operations and Management department to Spaulding Auditorium in the Hopkins Center, the new building is given a sizable portal that frames the existing Hood Museum complex and functions as a door to the south entrance of the campus. Commercial programs will mix with the educational functions along the street to further enhance the town’s Master Plan.