Kanbar Hall to provide space for departments
With funding secured and its design nearly set, the Bowdoin College Board of Trustees has voted to begin construction on Kanbar Hall, a new building to house the Psychology, Education, and Academic Skills programs; at the northeast corner of campus in March of 2003.
"For a long time Bowdoin College has had a serious need for a building to properly serve these important academic programs, which touch every student who walks the Bowdoin campus," President Barry Mills said.
Sandwiched between Sills and Cleaveland halls on the Cleaveland Quad, Kanbar Hall will rise three stories above a full basement. The largest tenant will be the Psychology department, followed by Education and the Academic Skills programs, including the Baldwin Center for Learning and Teaching, the Writing Project, and Quantitative Skills program.
Kanbar Hall will feature a 50-seat lecture hall, a seminar classroom, a 24-hour computer lab, and ample informal study spaces, in addition to program-specific labs and office space for the three tenants.
Common areas will be scattered throughout the building. "There will be spaces for students to congregate and talk informally with the chance of a faculty member stopping by and chatting," said Professor Louisa Slowiaczek, chair of the psychology department and a building committee member. Slowiaczek said the building will foster a "sense of camaraderie between students and professors in the department and encourage a sense of community."
The architects and planning committee decided on a three-story brick structure defined by a large glass entrance space and a glass wall that stretches across the corner of the second and third floors facing campus. The cost was chopped down to $8.75 million because the college budget reportedly could not accommodate earlier plans for a "signature building," and proposals for an elaborate curving glass front were scrapped to cut costs.
"The interesting thing about the building," said Bill Torrey, Senior Vice President for Planning and Development, "is that there is not really a back side to it. We wanted a face to the town" that connected the campus with the community.
Designed by Cambridge Seven Associates, the structure is to be angled into the space so that it maximizes sightlines and spares several trees near Bath Road, including the Kellogg Tree, the oldest tree on campus. The first floor of the building will be T-shaped but only the leg of the T will extend above the first floor.
Cambridge Seven also designed the award-winning addition to Searles Hall. "We chose them because they did an innovative job with Searles and know that end of campus well. They did a fine job of putting all of the component parts [in the new building] together," said Torrey.
The building's name, Kanbar Hall, recognizes the Kanbar Charitable Trust, which furnished the lead gift for the structure. Elliott Kanbar, a New York businessman and 1956 Bowdoin graduate, is part owner of Skyy Spirits, was a founder and partner of the $5-A-Day/Arthur Frommer group of travel companies, and was founder and chairman of General Mortgage Corporation.
The Neuroscience program will occupy the basement. The first floor will feature classrooms, a computer laboratory, and offices for the Education department and Academic Skills programs. Psychology laboratories, classrooms, and office space, a kitchen, and informal lounges will fill the second and third floors.
The largest tenant will be the psychology program. "I don't know what superlative adjectives to use to convey how excited I am about this new space," said Slowiaczek, the psychology department chair. The new building "really allows us to expand, grow, and develop in the work that we are doing at all levels. The length of time Psychology has been in the current space [Banister Hall] has led some people to question how the program is valued but I think the promise of this new space is somewhat inspiring," she said. The psychology and neuroscience departments will gain a wet lab and experiment observation stations that feature two-way mirrors facing rooms on either side. "We are particularly excited to have space that is deliberately designed for what we need to do," she said. "The new facilities will raise the psychology and neuroscience programs to a new level."
A new academic support center will cover part of the first floor. Ample new conference space will eliminate the need for writing and math tutors to meet in the Café and across campus, said Kathleen O'Connor, Director of the Writing Project. "The building will bring the academic support programs together and make them more visible," she said, noting that the programs are currently scattered across campus in Sills and Searles Halls. O'Connor hopes the connections between the three programs and the three departments in the building can enhance learning opportunities across disciplines. "We don't work as closely as we might," she said. The glass walls will also give the program a sense of openness, which, according to O'Connor, might make coming in to the Baldwin Center or one of the peer tutoring programs less intimidating.
The education department will move to the new building from Ashby House. "It will be wonderful that the education department will be moving back to the heart of the campus," Nancy Jennings, department chair and building committee member, said in a statement. "We're also looking forward to sharing space with psychology and the academic skills programs. This proximity will facilitate collaboration and the sharing of ideas among our students and colleagues."
An eight member building committee, comprised of senior administrators and faculty representatives, worked with the architects on the final designs. Originally planned for the site directly north of Massachusetts Hall on Bath Road, the planning committee decided to move the location to the larger space on Cleaveland Quad. The chosen space is bordered by Sills Drive and Bath Road.
Torrey, the planning administrator, said that along with Kanbar Hall, construction will begin this spring on the chapel to restore the spires. "We are also looking closely at the art museum," he said in terms of remodeling. Renovating the first year dorms and the hockey rink are the next projects on the horizon. "We are still in the fund raising stage," said Torrey.