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.