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Carleton College Selects Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle as Collaboratory Architect

June 8, 2007

Northfield, Minn.––Carleton College has selected the firm of Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle LTD (MS&R) as the architect for development of the former Northfield middle school into a facility geared toward creative collaboration––known informally as the Collaboratory––that will support multiple student and classroom projects and allow faculty members to teach with words, images, sounds, and narrative in a variety of media.

The Collaboratory will be a space where departments and students could work together in imaginative and transformative ways that support and feature a reimagined curriculum. Student work—increasingly multidisciplinary, technically sophisticated, and media-centric—would be fostered by a centralized technical support system (Digital Asset Resource Center), and the current Presentation, Events, and Production Support office (PEPS). The diverse, multicultural riches of the College, the region, the country, and the world would be brought to the Carleton community through a teaching museum, a dramatic theater, a cinema theater, a small black box theater, dance studios, and the student-run radio station, KRLX. The curricular core of the Collaboratory would be the academic departments of studio art, art history, cinema & media studies, theater & dance, and English, providing a combination of departments, facilities, and support services that will guarantee abundant creative synergy.

MS&R was chosen through a process that included five firms invited as finalists for on-site campus interviews with members of the architect selection and the arts planning committees.

Based in Minneapolis, MS&R (http://www.msrltd.com/) brings a 26-year history of extensive experience in similar projects, in terms of both renovation and reuse and in higher education and the arts. MS&R is known nationally for renovation or adaptive reuse work. MS&R’s Mill City Museum project was honored with national awards for its success in reusing historic mill ruins to house and showcase the museum and corporate offices, including MS&R’s own offices and studio. Similarly exciting and related projects include the Open Book Complex in Minneapolis and Urban Outfitters’ corporate headquarters, which required an extensive renovation of a portion of the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Other arts-related projects of MS&R include the University of Minnesota’s Regis Center for Art, as well as projects at Northland College, Hollins University, and Carthage College. In the Hollins project, a 1950s library was adapted into a visual arts center.

The project’s principals will be Thomas Meyer, who also teaches design at the University of Minnesota’s College of Design and is currently the president of the American Institute of Architects of Minnesota, and Garth Rockcastle, who also serves the Dean of the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

Support for Carleton’s arts planning has been provided in part by a generous grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, which allowed the College to quickly move forward with the next phase of the Collaboratory project. MS&R will have a schematic design to share with the College by January 2008.

To read the arts planning committee’s full report––“Toward a Consciously Creative Campus: A Collaboratory & Music Center”––please visit the Dean of the College’s website.