Bowdoin plans for future development
In an effort to make informed decisions about how to change the campus to best accommodate the needs of those living and working here, Bowdoin has maintained a correspondence with the land planning firm Skidmore, Owings, and Morrell (SOM).
The firm has been visiting the campus every few weeks in order to get a sense of the College's future goals and current atmosphere. Phil Enquist, the SOM partner working with the College, met with students from a land use planning class last Thursday, April 17.
At this point, SOM is "still listening, and trying to hear what the issues are," Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Scott Meiklejohn said. "I think that they are starting to understand us pretty well. We are focusing on the areas of campus where it seems that growth might happen. They are listening to our ideas and helping us figure out a good solution."
Environmental Studies Senior Lecturer DeWitt John, who attended Enquist's meeting with the class, added that the planners seemed to focus more on "the big, broad descriptions: what type of building might be needed, where, with what characteristics."
He also said, "We know the big questions, but since we can't start building today, the best thing to do is to plan."
Bowdoin is faced with "a handful of short-range projects that everyone [on planning committees] was aware of but no one could figure out," Meiklejohn continued.
These include changes to Dayton Arena, which he described as "probably in its last few years in terms of the systems in the building," accommodating for a shortage of classrooms, and the renovation of the first-year dorms.
These ideas pose the question of whether the campus needs to expand and if so how that should be accomplished. In renovating the dorms, "we need to make them handicapped -accessible, which reduces the number of rooms," John explained. "When that happens, all the first-year students won't fit in the dorms anymore, and where are you going to put those students?"
The College owns land both on the side of campus toward the downtown area and the side toward Farley Field House, but both options have potential issues attached. "On the side toward town there are a lot of little houses, but that will mean more students walking across Bath Road. The neighbors toward Harpswell are not eager to have the College come in there," John said.
A variety of considerations about the campus ambiance have made it difficult to determine a possible direction in which the College could expand. "The whole process is extremely complex," Meiklejohn commented. "There is a desire to keep things close, and a value in having things with different purposes next to each other on campus."
"We don't want to localize any one aspect of student life, but we are also taking into account what should remain close to the center of campus and what might be able to move," Meiklejohn continued. "Our goal is to maintain a strong center of campus."
Additionally, with the current economic situation, Bowdoin is slightly more hesitant to take on large projects. "Now, with the economy not doing as well, the College doesn't want to make bad decisions," Meiklejohn explained. "A little over a year ago, we decided it was time to get someone from outside the college to help."