Summer is a time of relaxation for many people. The word itself invokes thoughts of lazy mornings, afternoons by the pool, and weeks spent beachside with friends and family. For Vanderbilt students, summer creates opportunities for internships, study abroad, service activities, or simply taking a few months to recharge. For the university itself, summer is a time of transition. The relative scarcity of people and activity between Commencement and move-in day provides the perfect opportunity for breaking ground on various construction projects around campus.
The largest, most time-intensive project that has begun in the last few weeks is the creation of College Halls at Vanderbilt. College Halls will build off the success of The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons, our first-year residential experience, to create a living/learning opportunity for upperclassmen. The two main buildings, called “colleges,” will be led by a faculty director in residence and will be divided into four “halls,” each of which will be led by graduate fellows.
Before construction can begin on the new buildings, of course, the old buildings must come down. Demolition began last week on the six dorms that currently make up Kissam Quadrangle, which has served as an all-singles student housing option since 1957. College Halls will be open to all upperclassmen starting in fall of 2014 – which means students in the freshman class of 2011-12 will be the first to avail themselves of this option.
Just a stone’s throw away on main campus, construction has also begun on the historic Alumni Hall, built as the original student union and dedicated to the 44 Vanderbilt alumni who died in service during World War I. Up until this summer, the building housed the university writing studio and several administrative offices. Alumni Hall will not be demolished, but it will receive a much-needed face lift that will expand, enhance, and diversify the building itself and the spaces inside while maintaining most of the original structure. The “new” Alumni Hall will have spacious terraces, a classroom space, music lounge, exercise room, writing center, and café.
Last November, the Vanderbilt Bookstore merged with Barnes and Noble and moved from Sarratt Student Center to their new West End location. The transition has provided an opportunity for Sarratt to renovate and expand the other services currently offered in that building. Rand Dining Hall, the existing main campus eatery, will undergo an extensive renovation that will result in more seating options throughout the building. A connector between the two sections of the building – Rand and Sarratt – will be put in place to improve flow in this high-traffic area. The remaining space afforded by the old bookstore will be open for use by our 400+ student organizations.
Various other buildings and spaces will be undergoing some sprucing up as well. The lobby of Neely Auditorium, the church-turned-theater where various performing arts groups on campus showcase their talents year-round, will be extensively renovated. The classrooms in Furman Hall, which houses the Center for Second Language Studies, will be treated to updated classrooms and labs. Calhoun Hall will be renovated to house the Medicine, Health, and Society departmental offices. Dudley Field, home of the football team, will receive a new scoreboard, synthetic turf, and improved lighting. Finally, a new state-of-the-art video board was lifted to the rafters of Memorial Gymnasium just this week.
Summer at Vanderbilt truly is a season of change, and we are all looking forward to seeing how these additions, renovations, and expansions will enhance the academic and social lives of our students. Stay tuned for more information on many of these ongoing projects and how they may benefit you as a future Commodore.