Committee works on plans for quad in place of old Sawyer

For the past two years, a committee consisting of faculty, students and administrators has been working to design a new green space that will replace the old Sawyer Library. The quadrangle, which will be completed by the fall of 2016, will connect Schapiro Hall, Hollander Hall and the new Stetson-Sawyer Library with Paresky and will redefine the heart of campus, according to Senior Project Manager Bruce Decoteau.

“The idea is to transform this whole part of campus into a more pedestrian-friendly area, eliminating most of the vehicular traffic on Chapin Hall Drive,” Decoteau said. “[The plan] is not cast in stone, but some people seem very excited about it, and it has definitely gained some traction.”

A few years ago, the College conducted the east-west access on campus, starting at the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance. “It’s always been envisioned that it would end up at [the new Sawyer Library] once we had that plan in place, and this is the last step of making that all happen,” Decoteau said.

The current plan for the area includes tearing down the de-commissioned old Sawyer Library, and taking measures to reduce traffic along Chapin Hall Drive (emergency vehicles only beyond the Congregational Church Parking Lot), create rain gardens next to Schapiro and Hollander, construct new pathways in and around the quad and replace the stairs between Paresky and old Sawyer with a sloping hill and large marble stones.

The idea for the marble stones came out of meetings with the landscape architect. “These marble stones, or ‘ledges,’ are large pieces of marble that would be placed in different configurations and would transform that slope into a place for social gatherings and potential small classes outside,” Decoteau said. “Instead of the current stairs, you can kind of see how the slope is being transformed into these neat gathering spaces.”

According to Director of the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives Amy Johns, the purpose of the change is to provide another space for the community to gather.

“Our hope is that this can be an area where people can sit, hang out, play frisbee and perhaps use the space for the tents during Commencement,” she said. “It’s all part of a re-envisioning of that area.”

The committee, consisting of nine members, is currently in the design and development stage of the construction drawing plans. The landscape architect produced two rounds of drawings.

Decoteau explained that “the landscape architect presents drawings, the committee gives its feedback and then the landscape architect modifies and adds to the plans and comes back with the next set of documents, which is the phase we’re in. We’ve seen 50 percent design and development drawings at this point, and we’re expecting a full design and development set in the middle of November.”

The team will put out a request for proposal (RFP) for construction management services to hire a constructor, who will provide feedback on a timeline, budget and constructability.

“The timing of everything is kind of contingent on the removal of old Sawyer; once that’s done at the end of next summer, we will put in temporary black-top sidewalks and see where people walk,” he said. “Then, the summer after, we’ll work on actually constructing the green space and orient pathways across the quadrangle accordingly.”

This is the only committee working to create a new green space.

“I’m really excited about it because a lot of our existing green spaces are just grass and trees and not a whole lot else,” she said. “This will be nice because it will have the potential to add something very unique to the campus.”