By Victoria Ungvarsky
This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the introduction of the 2004 Master Plan — a design that included Horvitz Hall, the Gund Gallery, the North Campus Apartments and an expanded dining hall in Peirce. Now, President Sean Decatur and the architects at Gund Partnership have presented a new board-approved campus plan to improve academic facilities, create better residence halls and modernize the Village of Gambier. “The [new] Master Plan is about looking ahead to Kenyon’s future and ensuring that the physical campus will continue to meet the needs of the campus even after many of us here now are gone,” Decatur said. This proposed plan could cost up to $400 million to complete and, although it has no specific timeline, would likely be completed over 10 to 20 years, according to Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman. From now until April, the College will assess the Master Plan and decide on the first steps for implementing the updated plan at Kenyon.
Built in 1859, Ascension Hall is one of the most iconic buildings on campus. As the home of the religious studies, economics and modern languages and literature departments, the historic space is central to the academic lives of many students. However, its multiple stairwells make traversing the building difficult for those with more limited mobility. The Master Plan seeks to increase campus accessibility and work to retrofit older buildings with elevators, including Ascension. Two classrooms would become smaller in order to accommodate elevators to increase vertical accessibility. In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act codes, all new construction must come with ramps and elevators to make buildings open and available for all, regardless of mobility.
One of the primary focuses of the Master Plan is the creation of new residence halls and the razing of outdated residential facilities. These new buildings would also increase accessibility. Additional floors would be added to Norton and Lewis Residence Halls, with another building added to complete the first-year quad. New buildings between Norton and Watson Halls would create an additional quad and Bexley Hall would be restored with new rooms. At the other end of Middle Path, Manning and Bushnell Halls would be torn down and replaced with four larger residence halls by South Quad. Along with Manning and Bushnell, the Acland Apartments and the New Apartments would be torn down. The College would boost the number of available beds from 1,778 to 2,237.
Behind the current library would go a planned “West Quad.” The new quad would feature a College leadership building to centralize offices in the administration. Additionally, the West Quad would have a new academic building, an arts center for the drama, dance and film department and underground parking. This plan includes the relocation of Sunset Cottage to the other side of Bailey House and the creation of an English quad with additional English facilities.
The current Olin-Chalmers Libraries links two separate libraries, built in 1986 and 1962, respectively, and houses over 1.1 million volumes. The exterior of the library would maintain the aesthetic of other buildings along Middle Path but would allow for greater natural light inside. Increased study space is essential to the proposed expansion of the library, as well as a larger space for the Greenslade Special Collections and Archives.
Village of Gambier
According to the Master Plan, the heart of “downtown Gambier” would be updated to create better facilities for the current operating establishments. Farr Hall would be replaced with smaller, individual houses — similar to those designed for the recently opened Cox Health Center. The Kenyon Bookstore and the Gambier Deli would be contained in separate buildings. The new designs call for increased commerce in Gambier, with the potential for retail spaces and a new restaurant. New residential spaces would be on the second floor of most buildings in the Village. The Kenyon Inn would undergo a remodel as well, increasing the number of rooms from 32 to 58 with a larger restaurant and a 3,000-square-foot entertaining space. The Office of Campus Safety would be moved to a more central location, and the Office of Student Affairs buildings would be expanded.