This week, we have compiled the most important stories from the decade pertaining to building projects, information technology (IT), safety and security, and health and wellness at the College. We have pulled a selection of actual headlines from former issues, and condensed and synthesized stories relevant to each headline in order to showcase some of the most significant moments and enduring issues covered by the Orient. While our compilation is comprehensive, it is by no means complete. We encourage readers to pursue these headlines and others in our online archives, and to read our future installments of this series over the next several weeks.
Topics to come: Student affairs and campus life, college finances, admissions and reputation, environment and service, athletics, and Maine and Brunswick issues.
Despite bouts of economic instability and setbacks, it would seem that College officials accurately predicted the future in a February 2004 Orient article that reported that "By 2010, new buildings are expected to include the currently-in-construction Kanbar Hall, two residence halls, a new hockey arena, and a new bookstore. Officials also hope for renovation of the first-year dormitories, a new concert hall in Curtis Pool, a renovated Walker Art Building, and improvements to Hawthorne-Longfellow Library."
As the Orient looks back at the College's significant building projects of the decade, it becomes clear that the majority of construction plans for the campus were realized.
"Because we were able, very fortunately, to find the resources in this last decade, we were able to build and really expand Bowdoin's program," said President Barry Mills. "I always knew we were going to expand Bowdoin's program, I didn't anticipate certainly when I started that we'd have the resources to be able to build that program with the fantastic facilities."
Leadership center for Outing Club dedicated, October 25, 2002
On October 18, 2002, the Bowdoin Outing Club's (BOC) new building became the Schwartz Outdoor Leadership Center, dedicated to Steven Schwartz '70 and wife Paula Mae Schwartz, who donated the lead gift for the building.
Portland architect Richard Renner constructed the $1.25 million facility with a "green design" in mind. According to an April 26, 2002 story, Renner said that "the strongest environmental aspects...are site use, lack of air conditioning, natural ventilation, use of day lighting, and radiant-floor heating."
A September 2001 Orient article reported that a new center for the BOC was already "nine years in the making," a factor which contributed to Director Mike Woodruff's enthusiasm for the building. Woodruff cited the new kitchen and office space as aspects that would contribute to the efficiency of the BOC.
In addition, Woodruff said that the building's atmosphere, evoking a "rustic lodge feel," would be a draw, as well.
Kanbar Hall to provide space for departments, November 1, 2002
With the construction of Kanbar Hall, the College created space for both enhanced and new academic programs. According to a November 1, 2002 Orient article, with funds and a design secured, the Board of Trustees voted to begin construction on the building in March of 2003. The 2002 story reported that "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."
Though the building was originally planned for the space directly north of Massachusetts Hall on Bath Road, the planning committee decided to change the location to the vacant space bordered by the intersection of Sills Drive and Bath Road.
Architect will add, renovate first-year dorms, October 24, 2003
In October of 2003, Bowdoin hired architect Kyu Sung Woo of Kyu Sung Woo Architects, Inc. to add two new first year dorms on South St., and then complete the renovations on existing bricks. In a February 11, 2005 article, the Orient reported that construction on the two new dormitories was "progressing on schedule," and the buildings were to be used as "swing space" in the coming years, while Hyde, Appleton, Moore, Maine, Winthrop and Coleman Halls underwent renovations.
Mills said in an interview with the Orient last week that planning was crucial to the successful and speedy renovations to the dormitories.
"The dormitory projects went very smoothly but took a lot of thought in the way that they were implemented," he said.
Incoming first-years moved into the newly renovated Hyde and Appleton dorms beginning in September of 2006, while renovations continued on Moore and Coleman. When those renovations concluded shortly before Winter Break in 2006, students moved their belongings from Maine and Winthrop halls into quad-style rooms in the newly renovated residences, allowing construction to begin on the two final bricks, Maine and Winthrop Halls. To allow for two residences to be renovated during the academic year, East and West Halls housed a large number of forced triples.
Chapel renovation: making progress and on budget, April 25, 2003
The early part of the decade brought extensive reconstruction to Bowdoin's Chapel. The need for reconstruction was first identified in November of 2001, and plans focused on the renovation of the outer structure. According to then-Director of Facilities Management Bill Gardiner, moisture seeping into the outer layer of granite in both towers deteriorated the mortar of the building, and "constant freezing and thawing of this moisture [caused] some stones to project out from the face of the tower." The article also reported that although "the Chapel was given a new roof in 1996, and interior restoration was performed the following year," the exterior structure has remained essentially untouched since it was built 140 years ago."
Renovations were put on hold in April of 2002, however, due to the unstable economic climate. An April 26 Orient article reported that then-Vice President for Planning and Development Bill Torrey said that funding was in hand for the initial stage, which included "the stabilization of the towers with balancing scaffolding and wire mesh." It was yet to be seen, however, when funding would be available for the remainder of the project, which included the "removal and replacement of each individual granite stone."
By March of 2003, renovations were back on track. According to an April 25 Orient article, the first stone was removed from the north spire on the Chapel on March 25. On October 21, 2004, the fully-renovated Chapel was rededicated during a Homecoming Weekend ceremony.
Estate sale nearly complete, September 17, 2004
Though students of today may have never heard of Breckinridge, the 23-acre, 25-room manor house in York, Maine, formerly the Breckinridge Public Affairs Center of Bowdoin College, was the subject of heated controversy earlier in the decade. The estate had been used by the College since 1974, and was given to the College by owner Mary Marvin Breckinridge Patterson after her death in 2002. An October 2003 Orient article reported that "after a year of analyzing the costs and benefits of the property, the College decided to sell Breckinridge rather than commit the financial resources necessary for updating and maintaining the conference center."
Uncertainty about the College's intentions for the estate, however, incurred the disappointment of Isabella Breckinridge, a niece of the original owner.
"I was scared that it might be sold to developers," said Breckinridge in a phone interview with the Orient from her Georgetown home, as reported in a September 17, 2004 article. "There's so much beautiful river-edge property there that I hated to see it developed."
Ultimately, the College sold the estate to two private buyers. Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration & Treasurer Katy Longley said that the College never planned to sell the property to developers. The decision to sell, however, was based on the fact that use of the facility was made difficult by it's hour-and-15-minute distance from campus, as well as the fact that it was unusable in the winter.
Several on campus also expressed their disappointment at the College's decision to sell the estate. In an Orient article from October 10, 2003, Professor of Government Allen Springer said that Breckinridge was "a real opportunity to get away from the Bowdoin campus and for students to engage in material in a way that I've never seen them do anywhere else." In the same issue, the Orient titled their editorial "Paradise Lost," in reference to the sale.
In November of 2003, Breckinridge was host to a different type of drama, when HBO filmed several scenes of their miniseries, "Empire Falls," on the grounds.
H&L spaces to undergo overhaul, September 17, 2004
The second stage of the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library, which began in September of 2004, dealt with the second and third floors of the building, after a 2001 renovation remodeled the basement to increase storage space, as well as the first floor. Though portions of the third floor were renovated in 2001, the aims of the 2003 renovation were to transfer "the rare book storerooms from the exterior walls of the library to an enclosed central room with a climate-controlled environment," to "install a sprinkler system on the top two levels of the library," and address students requests to improve upper-level study spaces.
30 College St. becomes multicultural center, September 7, 2007
Ending its tenure as student housing, the house at 30 College St. underwent renovations over the summer of 2007 to become the new Multicultural Center for student groups. The design, featuring a kitchen for kosher cooking, radiant heat flooring, and multiple meeting spaces, was designed to "give student groups a space that fits their needs, rather than trying to make them fit into a space created without their needs in mind," according to Associate Dean of Multicultural Student Programs Wil Smith.
Remodeled Walker Art Building rivals 'any major metropolitan art museum', October 12, 2007
In the fall of 2007, the Walker Art Building opened the doors of its new transparent glass pavilion, which had been added as part of the major renovations to the Museum of Art. The October opening celebrated seven years' worth of planning and construction, culminating in what Professor of Art Steve Perkinson called a "legitimately spectacular" renovation.
"The spaces compare favorably to any major metropolitan art museum," said Perkinson, at the time of the opening. "It's a collection that any college would envy, and finally that collection has a building that is again worthy of it."
The College's announcement that it planned to renovate the Walker Art Building came in October of 2000, according to an October 13 article from that year. The purpose of the renovation was to "increase gallery and storage space from seven to 14 galleries, enhance handicapped accessibility throughout the building, and install a new climate control system," according to a May 4, 2007 Orient article.
Though the renovated building earned the praise of many at the College, the original plans for the building were not so popular. In the summer months of 2004, the proposed changes "created a public backlash" and "forced the College to rework its plans for the future of the building." In particular, opponents of the blueprint took issue with the widely publicized "proposed removal of the front steps," which some alumni and architects called both "historic" and "essential."
In October of 2004, the trustees approved a new museum plan, which abandoned the alterations to the front steps, and instead proposed the construction of the glass pavilion, as well as an addition on the Maine St. side of the museum. Both of these proposed changes are reflected in the museum's design today.
Mills called the renovation of the art museum the "most complicated" project of the decade. "No project had as much controversy...architecturally, as the museum did."
"I think in the end, the museum came out really wonderfully," he added.
Recital hall fine-tuned for opening, April 27, 2007
The space that had been Curtis Pool in the '80s and storage space in the '90s reopened its doors in April of 2007 as the state-of-the-art Studzinski Recital Hall, a $15 million project that created a 21,000-square-foot performance space, the 280-seat Kanbar Auditorium; nine practice rooms; and rehearsal space. According to an April 27, 2007 Orient article, Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs Scott Hood said that "talk of converting the Curtis Pool Building, which had stored 'junk and textbooks' since the completion of Greason Pool in 1987, began in the '90s." Firm plans for the building, however, were not made until the summer of 2005, due to the numerous other construction projects on campus at the time.
Watson Arena to host first game in January, December 12, 2008
"On January 18, the puck drops," read a December 12, 2008 Orient article anticipating the inaugural game at the Watson Ice Arena, which officially replaced Dayton Arena as Bowdoin's hockey rink. Construction on Watson, which began in September 2007, was preceded by the College's registration of the rink as a LEED building project. According to the December 12, 2008 article, Watson's design improved on Dayton's layout, boasting larger locker rooms, an athletic training room with ample treatment space, a surround sound system, a press box with improved visibility, and additional refrigeration and dehumidification abilities.
Though many considered Dayton Arena an integral and iconic building, according to Director of Capital Projects Don Borkowski in 2008, "Dayton Arena, constructed in 1956, [had] more than served its time," and "the cost of renovating and replacing systems again was not a plausible option."
The process of finalizing plans and architects for the rink was a lengthy one, according to an Orient article from November 2005. At that time, plans for a new hockey rink were already "four years in the making, with nine rink architects initially considered for the job and two firms ultimately selected for the job." According to the article, the budget for the project was $15 million. Funds were reported to come from "gifts donated by alumni, graduated hockey players, parents, and organizations."
Buck Center for Health and Fitness opens doors, September 18, 2009
The three-story, 44,659-square-foot Peter Buck Center for Health and Fitness officially opened in September of 2009. In an interview with the Orient for an April 7, 2006 article, Mills said that a "state-of-the-art" fitness center would be completed "as soon as possible." According to then-Dean of Student Affairs Craig Bradley, the building committee estimated that the "cost of the new fitness center would be approximately $5 million." When all was said and done, the project totaled $15.5 million, and "was completely paid for by gifts received through The Bowdoin Campaign," according to Senior Vice President for Planning and Development Bill Torrey. Though in November of 2008 the project was $3.6 million short of funds, College officials said that construction would continue as planned, given that the College could use unrestricted funds already donated or borrowing capacity if necessary.
The Buck Center was ambitious in its aims, hoping to fuse "a new fitness center, a health center renovation, and a wellness center proposed by the Counseling Service into a single project," according to a September 2007 article. Although the acupuncture and massage programs had to be jettisoned for financial reasons, the majority of the proposed programs are evident in the Buck Center today.