Design Firm to Outline Plan for Undergraduate Communities

5/19/2014
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The College has begun the nuts and bolts work of envisioning a campus system of residential communities drawing on the house and residential college systems that exist at some peer institutions, but tailored to the unique environment at Dartmouth.

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Students work in a study area in one of Dartmouth’s residence halls. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

“I see great opportunity to build sustained community within our residence halls,” President Phil Hanlon ’77 said in his November 18, 2013, address to the Faculty of Arts & Sciences.

Trustee Chair Steve Mandel Jr. ’78 expanded on Hanlon’s vision in a March letter to the Dartmouth community. “Although many details have yet to be worked out in consultation with faculty, students, and staff, the new living arrangements will embrace the concept of the ‘house system.’ Students will live together not only in their freshman year but also in upper-class residences for their three remaining years,” he wrote.

Upcoming Workshops
  • Design workshop for students: Collis Common Ground, noon on May 20
  • Design workshop for students: Collis Common Ground, 5 p.m. on May 20
  • Online “MyCampus” survey for students, faculty, and staff: May 21 to May 31
Architects and planners from the internationally known design firm Sasaki Associates arrived on campus May 15 to begin assessing Dartmouth’s current housing. The Sasaki team is also exploring key aspects of the Dartmouth campus and culture, and how those will inform future residential communities that will be uniquely Dartmouth.

The firm will develop scenarios for Dartmouth, and is working closely with an internal team led by Senior Assistant Dean of Residential Life Mike Wooten and Vice President of Campus Planning and Facilities Lisa Hogarty. A steering committee chaired by the provost that also includes the dean of the faculty and the dean of the college will provide oversight and guidance.

The Sasaki team has begun a series of meetings with students, administrators, and faculty to gather information and ideas for the project. In addition, from May 21 to May 31, the firm will launch an online campus-use survey asking Dartmouth community members to interact with a satellite map by pinpointing where they live, study, socialize, eat, recreate, and walk..

Interim Provost Martin Wybourne is encouraging students, faculty, and staff to participate in the campus-use survey, which is called ”MyCampus.“ ”Because the choices we make in relation to undergraduate residential communities could affect the way many of us experience the campus, we want to invite broad participation in this process,“ Wybourne said.

Students will also have the opportunity to participate in design workshops in which they can offer input on how they think undergraduate residential communities should look and feel. These workshops will take place at Collis Common Ground at noon and 5 p.m. on May 20.

The study will run through the summer and the final report is expected to be completed this fall. This work will go on in tandem with preparations for the four new living and learning communities set to open in the fall term, said Wooten. The plan will also preserve the East Wheelock Cluster as one of the four-year residential alternatives.

The four new living/learning options coming on line for the fall term are DEN in Residence, centered on the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network; Triangle House, centered on the issues and needs of the LGBTQIA community; the Global Village, which will coalesce around international issues and interests; and Design Your Own, which includes ten approved mini-communities with issue- or interest-centered living arrangements, Wooten said.

”These new living/learning communities are very much tied into the development of broader undergraduate residential communities. This concept of co-creative living and learning communities is central to Dartmouth’s mission," Wooten said.

In the coming days, Dartmouth community members will have the opportunity to join the discussion in various ways as Sasaki planners ramp up their work.

This is not the first project Sasaki has undertaken for Dartmouth. The company worked on the Baker-Berry Library renovation and addition. The firm has a team dedicated to higher education architectural design and planning with a project portfolio that includes housing and residential district studies for Yale University, Boston College, and Ohio State University.