Section: News

The future face of Kenyon’s campus

Students concerned about the destruction of the Olin-Chalmers Memorial Library may have to wait a little longer to find out when the College will tear it down.

Two weeks ago, construction crews began drilling holes in the soil around the library to test the structural soundness of the ground where the College will be building a new, six-floor structure, according to Mark Kohlman, chief business officer. But both President Sean Decatur and Kohlman said they did not know when Kenyon would tear down the old library or break ground on the new one.

In March, the College posted an updated version of the new library plans from the architectural firm run by alumnus Graham Gund ’63 H’83, Gund Partnership, which is designing the project. These plans, displayed in Chalmers, included changes to the design of the special collections room and the archives room, but the exterior of the building remained the same.

Kohlman said the College did not have a specific timeline on when the project would be completed, but said the College had their first round of meetings and workshops with Bright Spot, a consulting firm based out of New York working with the administration on construction plans for the new library. These meetings included the library staff so they could give feedback on the plans and get an idea of how they will function in the future space.

Kohlman said the College did not have an estimated budget for the new library at this time.

Timmy Broderick ’16, chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, said the new library would act as an “academic commons” for the campus. The College is considering moving the Student Accessibility and Support Services (SASS), the Career Development Office (CDO), Office of the Registrar, Helpline and the Writing Center into the new space, according to Broderick and Ronald Griggs, vice president of library and information services (LBIS). Griggs hopes the move will increase student traffic through these particular offices.

Broderick said one of the College’s goals for the new library was to design the space so it could evolve with new technology. In the plans, there is a “sandbox room,”  a space that will remain virtually empty so the College can move new technology into it in the future.

“Whatever technology becomes prominent in the next 20, 40 or 50 years, they can adapt the space to that use,” Broderick said. “I think that’s what a lot of the plans are trying to do, make [the library] so it’s not necessarily up to date now, but up to date 40 years from now.”

An attached parking garage is also laid out in the plans, according to Griggs and Kohlman. They did not have a timeline or an approximate budget for the parking garage.

The Sustainability Council, a group of students, faculty and staff devoted to reducing Kenyon’s carbon footprint, along with the help of Griggs, intends to submit a proposal to the Buildings and Grounds Committee during the board meeting on Friday for the new library to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum, the highest level of sustainability a building can achieve. Griggs and Broderick said the new library would be one of the largest buildings on campus, and they want it to reflect Kenyon’s progressive environmental mindset.

“It’s going to be the centerpiece of campus, in a lot of ways, and we want it to be sustainable; we want it to reflect our campus values,” Broderick said.

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