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Plans for new classroom building now underway

by Karen A. Grava - September 25, 2006

Planning for a single new classroom building to be completed in 2009 to replace Arjona and Monteith has begun in earnest.

Addressing the Capital Projects Planning Advisory Committee last week, Jim Bradley, interim executive director of Architectural and Engineering Services, said the new 189,000 square-foot building will be located between Homer Babbidge Library and Hawley Armory, on the site of the former UConn Co-op.

The new building will house the departments of Journalism, Modern and Classical Languages, Political Science, Economics, Linguistics, and Communications Sciences.

Several options for the new building are under consideration, Bradley said.

The building could be "L" shaped or have a tower on one end, or it could be a more traditional rectangular shape, the least expensive option and the one that takes up the least amount of land.

The decision on the building's shape and on its exact location within the site will be made by the Buildings and Grounds Committee, which will consider information from the Classroom Committee, the Registrar, and the six departments to be located in the building.

The committee will also consider whether the building should be three or four stories high, and will review studies of traffic patterns, access, and parking that are currently underway, Bradley said.

Three building options were presented at the meeting. They were shown in the three-dimensional context of adjacent buildings and the larger neighborhood, using photographs of scale models.

In response to concerns raised at the meeting by Rob Henning, associate professor of psychology, Bradley said the design team will meet with the department to discuss concerns involving traffic and parking, as well as the impact of the proposed new building on the planned expansion of the psychology building.

"The new classroom building will be a hallmark building on campus," he said. "It has to be done right."

The new building will also affect pedestrian traffic patterns on the Student Union Quadrangle, which is being re-landscaped by Carol R. Johnson Associates of Boston.

The quad site development plan was presented by Horace Aikman, senior associate of Johnson Associates.

The firm has designed landscaping for the Harvard Business School, Duke, and Boston University, among others.

The quad will be anchored by terraces at the Student Union and the Benton Museum, said Aikman.

The site that now houses the old pharmacy building, which will be torn down this winter, will become part of the area, and will be a sylvan landscape of trees designed as a meeting place.

It will be known as "the glade."

In 50 or 60 years, Aikman said, the trees will provide a canopy for students walking through the area. The spot is being designed to be a place with a slower pace, and to appeal to students who like to be in areas "to sit and be seen."

He told the committee that part of the area will include graduated steps that can also serve as risers for concerts or performances.

And opposite the glade will be a graduated area that will show off the front of the Castleman Building.

"Castleman is a beautiful building," he said, "and will become the backdrop for events."  

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