As students flood Sayles-Hill during common time or between classes, it is easy to become frustrated by the high level of student traffic. However, a solution to the congestion is in the works.
Last term, the Committee on Student Life began to explore the idea of creating a master space plan for Sayles-Hill. Although there are no current plans for renovations, having a master space plan would not only direct more minor changes, such as replacing carpets or creating a Sayles-Hill office from a department office, but would also ensure that Carleton is ready to move forward if the opportunity for renovation becomes possible.
“If we had a plan,” explained Lee Clark, Director of Student Activities and Chair of the Committee on Student Life, “we could stop putting on band-aids and instead think more long-term and be prepared for renovation when the time is right. We can ensure that one improvement doesn’t negatively effect future improvements or the general goals for the building.”
For the first stage of the plan development, the committee decided to hire Joel Zarr, a consultant who has “a really good track record with colleges: looking at facilities and identifying their needs,” said Clark. “He visited and talked to students, staff, and faculty as he tried to get a voice for the building.” The committee is expecting a report from Zarr in the coming weeks that explains the commonalities of compiled data from his various meetings during his three-day visit. After his report reviewed, the committee hopes to bring him back Fall term to begin the actual creation of the master plan.
As the college moves towards being more sustainable, the committee believes that a master space plan could help facilitate Sayles-Hill going green. “A long-term plan for the facility will allow the College to incorporate the environmentally efficient technology already applied to recent campus renovations,” said Isabelle Rivers-McCue ’14, a member of the Committee on Student Life.
Sayles-Hill is over 100 years old, but Carleton’s goals for the building have never been written down or agreed upon. Because of this lack of vision and consensus, parts of Upper Sayles have four different kinds of carpet, and walls are built in offices only to be a nuisance five years later. The committee believes that these issues could be remedied by a master space plan.
Another issue is the spacial area of Sayles. “The overall square footage of our student center is larger than many comparable colleges, but we are discovering that we are under-utilizing that space,” said Clark. He continued to explain that a lot of the bottom floor space is being used as storage or is closed off by locked doors, while other spaces, like the area in front of the info desk, is being over-used. “I see a building that has been patched together over the past 100 years but has the chance to shine,” said Clark. “It has a lot of potential, and in the future, it will be time to bring it forward as a priority. With this plan, we will be ready for that.”