News

June 10, 2010

Reunion Report: A More Open, Greener, Modern Campus

More open space, fewer cars, and a clearer, more consistent way of marking the borders of College property on and around College Hill.

Along with new and renovated facilities, those are the primary changes presented in the College’s new campus master plan, as outlined June 6 during a Reunion Weekend event in the Oechsle Hall auditorium. For about an hour Mitchell Wein, vice president of business affairs and treasurer, and Mary Wilford-Hunt, director of facilities planning and construction, shared an overview of a five-phase plan for the College that extends some 30 years into the future. The master plan directly supports the College’s strategic plan, which Lafayette President Daniel H. Weiss presented later that Saturday morning.

  • Master Plan Web Site
  • Photo, video, and article highlights from Reunion Weekend

The master plan is a “living,” dynamic document, Wein noted, and the further into the future it goes, the less fixed some elements become. At the moment, the College is committed most heavily to a plan to make the campus an even more pedestrian-friendly and bucolic setting.

Under the plans, the campus will be transformed from one intersected by roads to one that keeps cars and other traffic at the periphery. Quad Drive, which winds past the Farinon College Center and Kirby House on its way from McCartney Street toward High Street, would become a pedestrian walkway. So would Pardee Drive.

This process will happen first at the entrance to Watson Hall as the roadway is removed and replaced with a visually more appealing surface than asphalt. The new surface could still support vehicle traffic when needed, such as for emergencies and the move-in day for first-year students.

Alumni at the presentation, concerned about the potential impact of eliminating the parking along Quad Drive and in front of Pardee Hall, were soon reassured that the master plan contained measures to prevent disruptions.

“Parking is a big part of the plan,” said Wein. “If parking doesn’t work, the plan doesn’t work.”

Replacements would be available before any current parking is ripped up, and each phase of the plan would result in a net increase of spaces. One possibility for new parking involves building a two-level garage by the site of Watson Courts as the housing is replaced with academic buildings. Others are adding a parking garage behind the Williams Center for the Arts and surface lots at the site of the old tennis courts on Pierce Street.

Beyond such a dramatic change to the look and feel of Lafayette’s campus, Wein and Wilford-Hunt unveiled a number of other plans to spruce up College properties, from the imminent replacement of the McKelvy House roof to anticipated renovations of landmark buildings Colton Chapel, Pardee Hall, Van Wickle Hall, and Markle Hall. New buildings are to include a Life, Earth, and Environmental Science Building, Markle North academic buildings, Marquis Quad and South Lawn residence halls, and a welcome center, as well as expansions of Skillman Library, the Williams Center for the Arts, and Marquis Hall.

The College also has an eye toward maintaining and improving its properties farther off campus. Lafayette is considering the condition of its off-campus housing stock, and determining which houses are worth rehabilitating and which may be replaced with new student and faculty housing.

Pedestrian walkways, part of the College’s larger commitment to natural systems and environmental friendliness, likely will be among the earlier elements of the plan to be implemented. In addition to strengthening Lafayette’s open space, the master plan incorporates the latest research into hydrology and plantings.

“It’s supposed to be a work in progress, a guideline,” said Wein, “but it’s also a living document.”

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