Update on the Renovation and Expansion of ARH and Carnegie

Last spring, the Board of Trustees authorized several campus planning projects. Various entities have worked over the past year moving these projects forward. Here we provide an update of the work related to teaching and learning spaces for the non-fine-arts humanities and social studies. We update our earlier announcement of the hiring of the architectural firm EYP to assist in this planning.

Where We Are Now

We are currently working on program verification. In planning for a building, the program is, at its core, the list of functions that will be included in the project, along with square footage for those functions. The previous Academic Space Planning Committee prepared a draft program that was shared as part of its final report, but there were some open questions at that time, and some circumstances have changed since then. EYP, the design firm working on the ARH Carnegie project, is therefore spending its first months with us verifying and finalizing the program. At the end of this memo, we put the program verification stage in the context of the overall process lasting from now until the building is ready to be occupied.

As EYP works with us on program verification, members of its team are making a series of visits to Grinnell. These visits are heavily scheduled, and they regularly include meetings with the Building Projects Committee (chaired by Kate Walker), the ARH Carnegie Planning Committee, and other groups whose input will inform the program verification process. These groups have included regular, senior faculty status, and emeritus faculty; department and program liaisons; student representatives; groups representing DASIL, the Global Grinnell task force, Accessibility and Disability Services, and Sustainability Advisory Committee; and others. EYP's last visit this semester will take place at the beginning of finals week. During the summer, it will continue its work, communicating with faculty where possible and also with people whose work schedules remain steady over the summer. Summer is an excellent time to make progress analyzing the physical state of the buildings and building sites.

Here are some of the key issues that we are working on with EYP:

Classrooms

Classroom spaces are at the heart of this project, both functionally and in terms of square footage. We need to get them right. We did a survey more than two years ago of the faculty who teach in buildings affected by this project. We have good information from the results of that survey. That said, when EYP began talking to us about classrooms in the planning process, we found that the earlier results could use some refinement. Two years later, the faculty involves different people and different experiences with existing spaces. We will therefore be doing a second classroom survey very soon, and this one will take advantage of more detailed graphics prepared by EYP with our project specifically in mind.

Offices

Even aside from offices associated with academic support, labs, and centers, there are a large number of faculty offices in the working program. The number is so large because it includes answers to many questions. In addition to the non-fine-arts humanities and social studies departments that will occupy the new facility, the offices include some for senior faculty status and emeriti/ae faculty and for academic visitors. An office space task force consisting of Executive Council and representatives from the senior faculty status committee and senior staff has been working on recommendations for office policy to inform the program for ARH and Carnegie.

Other programmatic elements

EYP has also been meeting with other groups to inform the final program's elements related to Global Grinnell, DASIL, the Reading and Writing Labs, technology support, research spaces, and other components beyond offices and classrooms, such as informal gathering spaces that will foster intellectual collisions throughout the building.

After the program is set, we will still have many decisions to make. Aside from the design itself, we also need to work through, for example, how to place academic support staff most effectively, how to shape academic neighborhoods within the larger complex, how to meet high standards of accessibility and sustainability, and countless smaller details from electrical outlets to office furniture arrangements. Another important aspect of the design process will involve collaboration between EYP and the yet-to-be-selected firm designing the Admission and landscaping projects that are also part of Phase I.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is this project going to look like?

To a large extent, we don't know yet. We know that it will be configured as a renovation and expansion of ARH and Carnegie, and we are closing in on a final number of required square feet. Part of EYP's visit to campus in May will consist of an open forum on Monday, May 11, in which EYP will share a few general strategies for placing the building in that part of campus. Throughout the planning process, the campus community has expressed a desire for more space for specific functions -- more offices, more classrooms, more informal spaces, and so forth -- along with concerns about the total size of the complex. EYP is working on ways to institute what they call a "cottage" model of organizing smaller communities within the larger structure, and the relationships between entities within the project and the rest of the campus and town will continue to drive the design process.

What's next?

After EYP visits us in May, it will be summer break. We will do our best to advance the project given the limitations caused by summer travel; for example, summer will be a good time for EYP to learn about the physical site of the project in detail, talk to 12-month staff, and work out plans for the schematic design process, including the shaping of further communications with the community.

How are we paying for this?

For all of Phase I -- not only this project but also Admission and landscaping -- the board authorized expenditures of $100 million, of which $20 million is to come from gifts and the remaining $80 million from debt.

Whom can I talk to about these issues?

You can talk to any member of the ARH Carnegie Planning Committee, which includes Todd Armstrong, Julia Bauder, Keith Brouhle '96 (co-chair), Sondi Burnell, Gwenna Ihrie '15, John Kalkbrenner, Kathy Kamp, David Lopatto, Claire Moisan, Joe Neisser, Erik Simpson (co-chair), Jim Swartz (co-chair), and Maria Tapias.

How long is all of this going to take?

In broad strokes, you can expect the rest of the design process to take a year to 18 months. Our experience on campus is that it takes about two years to build a new building and one year to renovate an existing structure. We are fairly sure that we will not be able to build and renovate simultaneously on this project, and we do not even know yet whether ARH and Carnegie can be renovated at the same time; that phasing will depend on the final design and needs for swing space. Therefore, you can think of the total remaining time as a year or more for design, two years of new construction (if it can take place in one stage), and a year or two of renovation. We have been using a target final occupancy date of June 2020. Obviously, these are very rough estimates, and much remains unknown about how the process will play out, but that's how we think of the schedule at this point.

What's the big picture process?

  • YOU ARE HERE: Program Development and Verification. The project program defines the scope and budget of the project by articulating the functions that will be included as well as the associated square footage. The verification stage settles any lingering questions about the initial decision-making or unsettled issues in the program.
  • Conceptual Design. The conceptual design establishes the general shape of the project; it gives a visual articulation of the way that the guiding principles of the project will manifest themselves in physical space.
  • Schematic Design. The schematic design describes the project in three dimensions.
  • Design Development. The design development phase refines the schematic design, adding aspects such as equipment and furnishings, material, colors, and building systems.
  • Construction Documents. Construction documents translate the project design from language and images meant to be understood by general users to the specifications required by contractors to build the project.
  • Construction. Builders build a building.
  • Commissioning and Occupancy. Commissioning involves testing the systems of the building to ensure that it performs as expected. Occupancy is the process of moving people into the building.

Keith Brouhle, Erik Simpson, and Jim Swartz, co-chairs, ARH Carnegie Planning Committee

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