Providing quality facilities for quality education
Providing a quality education requires, but is not ensured by, bringing together motivated students and dedicated teachers. It also requires appropriate physical spaces where learning takes place. The same is true for student residential housing and the administrative support functions of the College. Overcrowding and substandard facilities diminish quality of life and hamper productivity. Although many of Carleton's buildings
are in excellent condition and serve their functions well, many others are not, and our ability to carry out our responsibilities as faculty and staff is being compromised in these facilities. They need to be brought up to an appropriate standard for Carleton. Huge strides have been made in the past decade, but the total square feet of building space on campus is still insufficient. Therefore, some new building will be necessary during the next decade. In determining which needs for new or improved physical facilities the College should address in the next decade, we have been guided entirely by programmatic imperatives.
Several facilities projects are currently in various stages of development. We have not incorporated these into our analysis and recommendations. They are the recreation center, the new east side dining hall, improvements to the food service capabilities of the snack bar area in Sayles-Hill, and replacement and improvement of grounds storage operations in the vicinity of the farmhouse.
In this section we confine our recommendations to programmatic space needs, but there are many additional important aspects of our overall physical environment, including planning processes, accessibility, the campus grounds, and the relationship between the central campus and the Arboretum. Each of these needs brief attention before moving on to the facilities needs assessment.
Planning: Our earlier recommendation to review decision-making processes should include campus and facilities planning. There is a need for greater communication of, and perhaps broader participation in, this important part of our operation. For academic spaces it will be important to include representatives of the various academic divisions in discussions of classrooms, since classrooms are College spaces used by many. Flexibility needs to be a high priority, due to the likelihood that a given building or room will serve different functions in the future. The principle of mixing administrative and academic offices within individual buildings is a good one, for it fosters interaction among faculty, students, and staff. We should strive to eliminate all temporary buildings from the campus within the next decade.
Accessibility: Carleton should move as aggressively as possible to make all academic buildings accessible by the year 2010. High priority should be given to the most public venues, such as the Music and Drama Center, and the most heavily used buildings.
Campus grounds: The pedestrian character of the central part of campus is important to preserve and Carleton should strive to make it as vehicle-free as possible. Parking should be increased around the periphery, with longer-term parking confined to the farthest reaches and shorter-term parking closer in.
Relationship of the Arboretum to the rest of campus: In spite of considerable discussion about the intersection of the Arboretum and the main campus during the siting deliberations for the recreation center, no clear boundaries have been set to guide future planning beyond Lyman Lakes. Campus planning should coordinate the needs of the Arboretum, a distinctive feature of Carleton, with those of the central campus.
Facilities Recommendations in Order of Priority
The order in which we list the recommended facilities projects is based on our understanding of the programmatic needs of the College. We acknowledge that any such ordering rests upon judgments by those who devise it and that others might prefer rearranging, adding to, or deleting from it. Nevertheless, this list in this order represents our best judgment after our study and discussion over the past four months.
Building and infrastructure maintenance is a major operating cost of the College. At the present time, the money we allocate each year to maintain our buildings is insufficient to prevent gradual deterioration. The College has identified a significant backlog of maintenance needs that must be addressed in order to reduce and eventually reverse this deterioration. Our budget models include increases over the next decade that will bring us to a point where our current building stock will achieve a maintenance equilibrium, but there remains a very large-some tens of millions of dollars-shortfall that will need to be eliminated in order to bring the maintenance of our buildings and infrastructure up to an acceptable standard. The Board of Trustees has recognized this need and has directed the Facilities Office to assess the shortfall and develop a plan to eliminate it. All our recommendations for new or renovated facilities are made with the full understanding that these maintenance needs will have to be addressed and may take precedence over our recommendations.
We recognize that several factors other than programmatic need must be taken into account in deciding the sequencing of projects. They include financing (project costs and the wishes of donors) and logistics (the likelihood that we will need to create some new space in order to gain access to some of the spaces needed for renovation). Some of these specific factors are not yet known, and many of the unknown ones will become known only as initial choices are made, their consequences identified, and their costs determined. We therefore recognize that the sequence in which these projects are actually carried out is likely to differ, perhaps greatly, from the listed order of priority. Although we have not attempted to estimate the total cost of these projects, they represent a level of expense that we may reasonably hope to accomplish in a ten-year period.
Recommendation 1: Develop a Center for the Arts (new and renovated space)
The Arena Theater offers an unusually difficult and inflexible arena staging area, far too little storage space, no rehearsal space, too small a lobby, no classrooms, no staff offices, no connections to the academic computing network, and only a converted closet for clerical workspace. Facilities for Music are spread among three campus buildings-Old Music Hall, the Music and Drama Center, and the Chapel. Aside from consolidation in a single location, Music needs appropriate storage for instruments and a variety of specialized rooms. Media Studies is crowded into two rooms on first Scoville and is badly in need of a storage and work area and an adequate studio. The College's art gallery consists of a single room beneath the M&D plaza. It has no office or curatorial work space in the same building, and only a large broom closet for exhibition set-up and storage. Climate control in the gallery is not up to the standards required for displaying most kinds of art.
This project will involve renovating and enlarging the Music and Drama Center to accommodate the Music Department, an art museum, and the combined programs of Theater, Dance, and Media Studies, as well as facilities for Media Services. The Center may be expected to serve as the focal point of heightened activity in the arts across campus. It should include ample offices and supporting spaces for all faculty and support staff in these departments, academic and performance spaces to meet departmental needs, and classrooms suitable both for these departments and others outside the arts who will use them regularly.
Recommendation 2: Expand the capacity of the library (new space)
The Library is nearing capacity. It is expected to reach 85% of total shelf space capacity within four years, 5% higher than recommended by the American Library Association. Eventually, increased use of electronic media may help reduce demand for library space, but over the next twenty or so years it not only will fail to lessen the need for more room to house paper materials, but it will require more space for the work stations to access technological materials.
Three possible expansion plans suggest themselves. First, construct a separate science library and return scientific materials to it; second, expand the main library building, leaving all scientific materials in it. Third, do both. The committee recognizes that this is a difficult programmatic, financial, and political issue and we do not recommend a particular solution. However, because of the immediacy of the problem, we urge the College to begin discussions next year to decide how we will add library space.
Recommendation 3: Ensure an adequate number of high quality classrooms appropriate to the various pedagogies used in our curriculum (new and renovated space)
Our teaching spaces range from ideal to marginal and, though not far from adequate in overall number, leave a lot to be desired in their fit to the pedagogy in many fields in the humanities and social sciences. Part of the problem of quality stems from the fact that, aside from Psychology, no department in the humanities or social sciences teaches classes in a building designed for its own use. As Scoville, Willis, Leighton, and Laird have been abandoned by others, often ingenious steps have been taken to shoe-horn departmental offices and classrooms of various sizes and types into existing structures. But results are mixed at best and instructors in these fields often find themselves teaching in crowded, inefficiently shaped rooms with the wrong kind of furnishings and technology for the range of pedagogies they employ. The College has an adequate stock of classrooms of some sizes and configurations, but others-chiefly, flexibly furnished lecture rooms and seminar rooms of medium capacity-are not quite ample.
Some of the needed classrooms will undoubtedly be developed from existing spaces, but others are likely to need to be created as a part of building projects. In order to achieve this goal we recommend a thorough review of the existing supply of rooms by category and demand. The findings of the review should be incorporated into the planning of appropriate renovation and building projects.
Carleton is a leader in the innovative use of technology to improve student learning. Our academic computing support services are exceptional. As we develop plans for improving learning spaces across campus, we must be sure to maintain our commitment to include appropriate technologies.
Recommendation 4: Develop a Center for Modern Languages (new and/or renovated space)
The modern language departments and programs are scattered across campus. This prevents them from taking advantage of the possibilities for synergy and the efficiencies of shared facilities. Instructors' offices are in three widely separated buildings and the Modern Language Center is in a fourth, temporary, building. Asian Languages and Literatures is housed in grossly inadequate quarters on Ground Scoville. We should bring together the current Modern Language Center and all of the modern language departments. Accommodations need to include appropriately clustered offices for all faculty and language associates, classrooms of the appropriate configurations and sizes, language labs and the other facilities of the current Modern Language Center, and common spaces. Language-learning technologies in these classrooms and labs should be
state-of-the-art. This recommendation could be achieved either through renovation of existing space (e.g., the top two floors of Leighton) or by new construction.
Recommendation 5: Construct additional on-campus student housing (new space)
For the most part our housing is adequate, though a combination of crowding in our residence halls and deterioration of some off-campus housing calls for the first new construction of on-campus student housing since 1967. One possible plan is for 150 students to be housed in clusters of townhouse or apartment units at various locations on or at the edge of campus. Because these units are likely to be built in several stages, it may be feasible for the first stage to begin before some of the larger projects listed above.
Recommendation 6: Consolidate several offices into a single Student Administrative Services Center (renovated space)
Crowding and substandard offices are serious problems for many administrative departments. They have inadequate work spaces, storage areas, reception areas, public access, and private consultation spaces. Offices with the most acute needs include the Business Office, Student Financial Services, the Registrar, the Post Office, and Printing and Mailing Services. Consolidation would not only alleviate current space inadequacies, but would also serve students better.
Recommendation 7: Develop and improve academic space for humanities and social sciences departments (new and/or renovated space)
Most academic departments in the humanities and social sciences have acceptable offices, but there are notable exceptions: two members of the English Department have ill-ventilated, windowless, attic offices in Laird; one pair of faculty currently share an office and another pair are scheduled to share a single office next year. In addition, one department has grown enough since the last round of building assignments that several members are housed in a building different from the department's headquarters. Several departments in these divisions of the College lack a genuinely adequate clerical work area, and none of them has a multi-purpose departmental common room to provide a focal point for departmental life outside classrooms and an "overflow" work area.
Part of this need can be met through renovation, but some new space is likely to be required. Possible locations include an addition to Laird or renovation/addition or replacement of Old Music Hall. There has been a rapid increase in just the past few years in the use of various technologies in our teaching of social science and humanities courses. Planning for either new or renovated space should include careful
consideration of these needs.
Recommendation 8: Renovate the Burton kitchen, serving, and dining areas
After the planned new east side dining hall is up and running, the current facilities in Burton will need to be upgraded, partly to meet the demand of competition with the new facility and partly to overcome limitations in the current design. Improved efficiency will reduce operating costs, allow it to handle roughly half of the dining load, and bring it into line with current concepts of food service.
Recommendation 9: Renovate Scoville Hall
Scoville is one of four Carleton buildings on the National Register of Historic Buildings. It has been in serious need of renovation for many years. Because of the openness of the original interior, which we would like to restore, finding appropriate occupants is a challenge. One possibility for this historic building would be to locate External Relations there-Alumni Affairs, Development, Publications, the News Bureau, and College Relations. The operations of this division are dispersed around campus, including off-campus houses and a temporary building. Care should be taken not to isolate this division from the rest of the campus. If Scoville's size precludes other occupants along with External Relations, another arrangement should be considered.
Recommendation 10: Renovate Goodsell Observatory, perhaps as a Center for Interdisciplinary Studies
Goodsell is another of our historic buildings in need of renovation. A likely use would be as a home for interdisciplinary programs and concentrations. By nature, these programs involve faculty from many departments. As a consequence they have no center of operations or common spaces for formal and informal gatherings. Just as we hope to provide such spaces for our academic departments, we should have similar goals for our interdisciplinary programs. If space permits, it also might be possible to provide offices in Goodsell for emeritus faculty, thus keeping them in closer contact with the intellectual life of the College following retirement.