Memorandum Regarding Site Selection for New Residence Hall and Academic Space
To: Paul Courant, Provost, and Royster Harper, Vice President for Student Affairs
Cc: Executive Officers
October 6, 2004
I am writing to confirm my decision to select the Frieze Building location as the site for an innovative project that will include our new undergraduate residence hall and a new academic gateway to the campus. I am asking the two of you to work together to oversee this project and bring it to fruition.
I believe the Frieze Building site represents an exciting, fresh approach that will allow us to address two important needs. It will enable the construction of a new residence hall with at least 500 beds, and also new academic space that provides greatly improved facilities for our academic departments. Although we are just beginning the specific facilities design process, I envision some areas of flexible, shared space in this concept as well as some areas distinctly dedicated to residence needs and academic needs. The space available at the site is large enough to create such a mixed-use environment. The selection of the Frieze site also is consistent with our campus master planning effort and our priority list for capital projects.
This new concept will be the first opportunity to make real my vision to more closely link our students’ academic and residential experiences. It will be a showcase for the ideas brought forward by the new presidential task force on residence life to create those links and enhance the quality of the student experience.
I envision this space as a magnet location on campus—creating a density of activity, including dining options—that will be available day and night for students and faculty. Shared spaces might include meeting rooms, production facilities, studios, classrooms, seminar rooms or a small auditorium—spaces that can be used by faculty and students, together and individually, for creative and scholarly projects. These shared spaces will complement the private spaces for residential areas and for faculty offices.
In addition to advancing our larger vision for the student experience, this plan will allow us to address one of our most pressing facility issues—the serious deterioration of the Frieze building that has resulted in wholly inadequate academic space. This building has been in desperate need of attention, and our academic units will benefit greatly from the new, modern academic space that we are able to build.
Faculty and staff in these academic units will have many questions about the timing and impact of this plan. Initially, the academic units currently housed at Frieze will be relocated temporarily during reconstruction beginning in 2006, with relocation details yet to be worked out. The departments of Theater and Dance will then move permanently to the Walgreen Drama Center and Arthur Miller Theater. The Provost’s Office, along with the academic units, will engage in a comprehensive planning effort to identify the most appropriate permanent space for the other affected academic units: Film and Video, Communication Studies, Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, Near Eastern Studies, Asian Languages and Cultures, and Linguistics.
Community members also will be interested in the selection of Frieze, given its history. I have specified that the new site design incorporate the Carnegie Library adjacent to the existing Frieze building. The structure has historic significance and originally was a public library. It can have new life alongside contemporary facilities. In the case of the Frieze Building, it would cost significantly more to renovate existing space than to create replacement space. In addition, the existing space could not meet the needs of this new concept which will expand the current square footage and change the “footprint” of the facility significantly. I do not expect this plan to require the acquisition of any additional property at the Frieze site.
As we outlined at the September Board of Regents meeting, the new residence hall space will include suite-style rooms and common spaces. Funding for the residence hall portion of the project will come from Housing internal reallocations and cost savings, routine fee increases, and the increased revenue generated from expanded capacity. Funding for the construction of academic space will come from central administration resources. The details and cost estimates will be determined as planning proceeds.
I would like us to bring a more specific project proposal, selection of an architect, and full budget for this comprehensive project to the Board of Regents for consideration at the December meeting. I understand that the concepts for use of the space will not be completely fleshed out at that time, but I expect they will develop over the next several months as the work with the architect becomes more detailed. I am targeting an aggressive construction schedule to begin in 2006 and be completed in 2008. We will present schematics and proposed design elements to the community as soon as they are ready, possibly in summer or fall 2005.
Please share this communication with affected faculty, staff and students as you embark on this expedited planning schedule.