In response to students’ inquiries about the construction of the New PPR (NPPR) dorm currently underway, Susan Smythe from Facilities Management held an information and Q&A session in Palmer Lounge Sunday night on how the project is developing. The few dozen attendees enjoyed snacks and could view the anticipated layout of NPPR on two posters behind Smythe. She described the vision the college had for the new living spaces and discussed with students their experiences and concerns of presently living next to the construction.
The entire building is expected to be completed in time for the 2016-2017 academic year.
“This time next year, people will be in it,” Smythe said.
Smythe first described the design of NPPR. The housing, located behind Palmer, Pittenger, and Roberts (PPR) dorms, will consist of three connected and cube-shaped buildings, labeled A, B, and C. Building B, linked to the other two, will have an elevator as well as a basement. Current construction is mainly preparing for this basement, which Smythe described is some of the most arduous work to be done. The space between the old and new buildings will become an open quad. The new spaces will hold common areas on the ground floor with large study lounges. Many rooms will have air conditioning, but it is not guaranteed throughout the whole dorm. The buildings will have windows with furnished terraces facing the baseball field. A student garden will be maintained adjacent to the buildings, and indoor bike storage will be available. NPPR will also be accessible with Onecard.
As for living arrangements, NPPR will hold 120 rooms arranged of suites. Building A suites will be confined to about five to six students, and building B will have about ten people on each of two floors. The bedrooms will have a desk and wardrobe and, as singles, may be smaller than other rooms on campus, in turn for more community space. Suite spaces will have a sofa, tables, chairs, and room for students to bring their own furniture if they wish. Like PPR, these dorms will be reserved mostly for upperclassmen.
NPPR is being developed with the college’s sustainability framework in mind. Water will be heated through solar energy. Some of the building is expected to run on solar electricity. Ground source heat pumps will be geothermal. Rainwater will also be collected for toilet water and flushing.
Smythe told students that the project is currently on schedule, but that delays are possible.
“We’re hoping we’ll be done [with construction] mid-July next year, so we’ll have time to move furniture in,” she said. “The schedule is a little tight, but is very closely monitored.”
Along with being informative, she stressed the importance of being transparent about the process and encouraged students to communicate comments and concerns.
After her presentation, Smythe opened the floor to questions. Conversation about the anticipation for the new future living options and also about living next to the ongoing construction ensued between students and the facilitator.
Smythe informed students that construction should start at 8 a.m. every work morning.
“If you see that or hear that not being the case, please let me know that,” she stressed, and apologized in advance for any rare occurrences of noise pollution. Smythe suggested students email her directly as soon as whatever construction-related disturbance happens. She noted that she communicates with the workers frequently throughout the day and he explained the value of having an open dialogue between students, workers and faculty leading the project.
“You’re also kind of eyes and ears for this project … and you can be a good source of information for us.”
Smythe also asked how she could update those living in PPR on relevant information. The group discussed possibilities for a website, bulletin board, or occasional emails to inform students of necessary details on the construction process.
Abigail Wild ’18, an RA in Pittenger, was please by the content of the presentation.
“I felt better informed after the presentation and excited about the sustainability initiatives, and the more developed off-campus community,” she said. “I think other than being concerned about construction, people are pretty excited.”
Sierra Bienz ’19, who lives in Palmer, appreciated the information she learned about the NPPR plan at the session.
“I didn’t have any idea what the building footprint or plan was going to be, so it was really interesting to see the architecture sketches.”
Bienz found the living arrangement for NPPR appealing.
“She’s really tempted me, the idea of single suites with a common area and air conditioning- it seems like it would be a very nice place to live.”
She also felt that living close to the construction was not an inconvenience, and that the leaders of the project valued students’ interests and concerns.
“I like being able to see the progress out my window,” she said. “It helps that [Smythe] is so willing to voice any concerns to the company doing the work.”
A final note Smythe mentioned was the importance of enhancing a sense of community for students living off-campus. She hopes the NPPR will offer more amenities and establish a stronger community for students living in these dorms.