Architects Visit Swat to Plan Redo of Papazian, Hicks, and Martin Laboratory

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Starting in late November, faculty members from the Departments of Biology, Engineering and Psychology will begin meeting with architects and coordinators to discuss plans for renovations at academic buildings across campus. Though there have been some talks already, substantive plans will only be decided upon after the architects arrive on November 28th.

The three departments are primarily located in buildings that are relatively old and lack the classroom and office space, as well as the newer and sleeker designs, of some of Swarthmore’s newest buildings.

The Philosophy and Psychology departments, for example, are located in Papazian Hall, which was built in 1929. Because the building houses two departments as well as some engineering workshops, Papazian is running out of space. Certain classrooms are shared by departments, and there is demand for additional offices.

The classrooms themselves are old and musty. “Having a nice classroom is important in college experience,” Head of Philosophy Professor Peter Baumann said. Further, students and professors have a difficult time meeting and chatting in the second floor lounge, because it is quite small and is often used for academic experiments.

There are similar concerns about the Martin Biological Laboratory, which was built in 1938 and houses the Biology Department. The Biology department is one of the largest departments on campus, and the Department is looking to build more classrooms and laboratories, as well as design changes that will allow for more interdepartmental work. The Department additionally would like labs that can be viewed from the outside.

“Science has become more collaborative today,” Head of Biology Professor Hiebert Burch said. “For us to have a chance to work with [other departments] is exciting and we need to find ways to facilitate it.”

The Department of Engineering is also looking for a space that will allow easier collaboration between departments and faculty members.

The department’s Hicks Hall was built in 1919 and, according to the September 2011 Strategic Draft Plan, the current building “lacks adequate space for group work in courses, for their signature senior level design projects, and for engaging students in faculty research.”  And says Chris Boutelle, ’14, “The air conditioning units are really loud, and sometimes need to be turned off during lectures.”

The renovation plans are still in their preliminary stages, but the project managers have already spent considerable effort working on designs. Project Manager Susan Smythe and other coordinators have visited other colleges, including Franklin and Marshall, to see their newest buildings. And certain renovations have already taken place, including converting the sub-basement of Papazian to lab space.


  1. 0
    Marian Firke says:

    I agree that substantial changes need to be made, especially to Papazian. However, I think a substantial portion of what makes Papazian (esp. Papazian 3rd) an uninspiring and dismal place to be is the lack of care and order that characterizes many of the classrooms.

    For example: Broken chairs, picture frames, projectors, and a mysterious gizmo resembling a large cart, which all inexplicably sat in the corner of my philosophy classroom and took up much-needed space for an entire semester last year.

    Why are these things here? I can (sort of) understand that the lack of storage is a major problem. But things that are just straight-up broken? It made the classroom feel like some kind of a catchall for cast-offs that nobody else wanted any more. Which is not exactly how I want to feel while I’m in class. 😉

  2. 0
    when i skip lecture, this is why ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    There is no adequate lecture hall in Hicks.
    E11 fills every single seat in Hicks 211.
    The mural room has these teeny-tiny desks which can’t fit an 8×11 sheet of paper. Also they’re very noisy.
    I really hope they turn the mural room into a big and cozy lecture hall, à la Sci 101.

  3. 0
    Voice of the Crum says:

    I hope redo means the renovation of these buildings instead of building new right from the start. New buildings are beautiful and instinctively satisfying (ah, it’s new and shiny), but also are environmentally and economically costly. Renovation requires more creativity and patience, but ultimately respects and sustains the spaces we currently occupy.

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