Administration Announces Plans for Crescent St. Project

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In a Mar. 8 letter to the Trinity community, following the most recent meeting of the Board of Trustees, President Joanne Berger-Sweeney presented the administration’s plans regarding the 11,000-square-foot building that is currently halted mid-construction on Crescent Street. “The emerging consensus is to pursue an integrated design planning process to support using the Crescent Street building for the Neuroscience Program, an art creativity corridor, an area supporting student success, and a shared common area space,” she wrote.   

The fate of the Crescent Street project has been cemented after months of deliberation among administrators, faculty, staff and students.  On Feb. 18, the Interim Deans of the Faculty Sonia Cardenas and Melanie Stein led an open discussion with faculty, staff and students to discuss possible applications of the new space. Feedback from the forum as well as input from elected student leaders, department chairs, program directors and various faculty committees were considered in the decision making process. “Far more ideas were generated than could be accommodated in a single building,” Stein and Cardenas wrote in an email.  “In prioritizing needs for the space, the administration was guided by four key criteria”:

Value added: Ensuring that programming created something new, not just relocated space.

Cost effective: Providing the most efficient use of existing resources.

Strategic: Aligning building usage with the College’s working goals and core mission.

Community enhancing: Promoting connections among multiple constituencies.

“Originally designated to be a large retail bookstore with a small cafe, programming in the building will now align with key institutional goals, including academic excellence, a sense of community and broader college pride,” Cardenas and Stein wrote.

The decision to incorporate the arts, student success and Neuroscience into the same building is intended to reflect the values of a liberal arts institution.  The entrance to the building is to include an art gallery and lounge area.  “The goal is to create a comfortable, welcoming environment, accessible to students after hours and with seating that can accommodate both socializing and studying with friends,” Stein and Cardenas explained.

The Neuroscience department does not currently have any dedicated space on campus.  Five years ago, plans were developed to construct an wing off of the Jacobs Life Sciences Center to house the Neuroscience department, and all the funds that were raised for those renovations are now being used for the Crescent Street project.  Over a dozen courses are to be taught in the new space, allowing students from any major to access the building’s facilities and technology.

While the administration has made clear their intentions for the space, the design process is still underway.  Three committees have been formed to represent the interests of Neuroscience, Arts Creativity Corridor and the Shared Common Area.  The Common Area committee is comprised of faculty, staff and students, while the Neuroscience and Arts Creativity Committees are made up of faculty and staff, but have relied heavily on student input throughout the design process.  “With the committees, we were sure we needed representation from all groups,” President Berger-Sweeney said during an Apr. 8 interview. “So we asked the Dean of Students office, the [Student Government Association], the Student Activities Committee, the Career Development Center, Information Technology Services, faculty, and other staff.”

The three committees have begun working with architects to finalize the design for the new space.  “Initial designs have been generated, and the goal is to reach a consensus about the overall design and layout by mid-May,” Cardenas and Stein wrote.

“We hope [the building] will be fully operational one year from now,” President Berger-Sweeney said in an interview with the Tripod.

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