By Henri Gendreau
More housing and a reimagined downtown could greet the Kenyon students of the future. With blueprints in tow, Graham Gund ’63 and associates presented plans on campus last Wednesday, Jan. 22 to representatives of the College, Village and student body about an update to the 2004 campus master plan.
While those involved in the talks stressed the speculative nature of the proposals, the Kenyon alumnus, along with staff members of his firm, the Gund Partnership, outlined a number of construction projects that have the potential to change the face of campus.
Gund presented several plans for updating housing on campus, including the possibility of adding a third floor to Lewis and Norton Residence Halls, constructing a fourth building across from Gund Residence Hall to create a true first-year “quad,” and renovating Bexley Hall into a residence hall.
“There [were] so many things suggested. It’s kind of a wish list, these plans,” said Gambier Mayor Kirk Emmert, who attended the most recent meeting.
“A master plan isn’t exactly a … complete blueprint of what the College should look like,” said Chairman of the Student Council Buildings and Grounds Committee David Hoyt ’14, who is also the Collegian’s chief copy editor. “But it’s sort of a set of guidelines with different ideas, some of which could be implemented at different times depending on what you need and what you can do.”
Other ideas tossed around at last Wednesday’s meeting include what Emmert said was an old plan to tear down Farr Hall. “One thing they described was keeping the Bookstore building as it is, maybe, but separating it from the rest of Farr Hall — tearing down the rest of Farr Hall and building two or three more store-house-like buildings as it used to be in Gambier,” Emmert said. “I think the general opinion of the architects is … that Farr Hall is an ugly building,” he added.
In addition to possible changes to the center of the Village, Emmert said talks revolved around the issue of housing for faculty and staff. “There was also discussion about building more housing in town for faculty, visiting faculty and other people who might want to come back and live in Gambier or [are] associated with the College,” Emmert said.
“It’s clear that the College wants to provide more housing” for faculty, he said.
“I’m very glad that they asked for student input on the Committee,” Hoyt said. “I think that the Gund Partnership, they’ve been interested to listen to us, and I really have enjoyed talking to Graham Gund and his associates in person.”
The Gund Partnership declined to provide renderings of the various projects, citing the College’s desire not to release them at this time. “We’re really just beginning this process,” said Holly Miller, an associate with the Gund Partnership.
“I think it would be inappropriate to weigh in at this time about the discussion that the Master Plan Committee has been having since we are only in the middle of the process,” Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman said in an email.
“I think it is premature at this point in the process to present proposals that may or may not end up in the final document or even [be] approved by the [Board of Trustees],” he wrote.
After further meetings in the coming months, the Committee will present a final updated master plan at the Board of Trustees’ April meeting.