Work Begins Monday on House Community Building

4/15/2016
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Work begins Monday on the innovative building called a “Sprung structure” going up beside Davis Varsity House that will serve as a social space for the North Park and South house communities.

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An artist’s sketch shows the opportunity for student engagement in creative activities in “living room” space provided by one of the temporary buildings. (Drawing courtesy of Sasaki Associates)

This is another step toward the fall 2016 launch of the College’s new residential life model, centered around six house communities that will provide permanent home bases for all Dartmouth undergraduates and present greater opportunity for faculty-student interaction beyond the classroom.

On Monday, the work involves removing the tennis courts closest to Memorial Field on Crosby Street, adjacent to West Gymnasium, followed by excavation and pouring of the building’s foundation. The three tennis courts closest to East Wheelock Street will remain in place.

Worksite fencing will take 14 parking spaces beside the tennis courts out of commission through the summer. Two handicapped-accessible parking spots and two other commuter spaces will remain in use during construction.

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The new structure is a 4,750-square-foot tent-like building made by Sprung Instant Structures Inc. The single-level building will include a small convenience store, restrooms, a small meeting room, three small study pods, and a 35’ by 70’ flexible-use space with adaptable seating components, says Lisa Hogarty, vice president of campus services.

“We envision this as student hangout space, but it can also function as a formal meeting place for South and North Park house events,” Hogarty says. “The idea is to provide a flexible living room for the residents, so we added a large deck, green space, and a fire pit to allow student activities to spill outside in the warmer months.”

Sprung structures are made from fabric membranes stretched over a metal frame. Harvard University, where Hogarty served as vice president of campus services until coming to Dartmouth in 2014, has been using such a structure as the executive education dining center at Harvard Business School for several years during construction of a permanent building.

Work is also progressing on the other temporary Dartmouth structure, this one located between Gile and Hitchcock halls to serve as a community space for the Allen and School house communities. This modular building will provide open space on two floors, a small convenience story, and a landscaped outdoor public area. The building is also slated for completion in time for the fall 2016 launch of the new house system.

Four new house professor homes are also in the final phases of construction. The residences, constructed by Unity Homes of Walpole, N.H., are energy efficient modular buildings that are made from green materials. All of the houses include large porches and spacious living areas to allow house professors to host gatherings of all sorts.