May 11, 2000
Vol. 19 No. 16

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    Town hall meetings open discussion about Main Quad changes

    By Jennifer Leovy
    News Office

    More than 40 students gathered inside Hutchinson Commons last week for an open meeting to discuss the future of lighting and landscaping on the main campus quadrangles.

    Alistair McIntosh, a landscape architect with Sasaki Associates Inc., the firm that will design a formal entrance to the Main Quadrangle at University Avenue and 58th Street, was there to hear students’ remarks and to answer their questions. Sasaki Associates Inc. also will develop an environmental lighting plan for the quadrangles.

    McIntosh has attended a series of small discussions in which groups of students, faculty and staff have contributed their thoughts on both lighting and landscaping for the Main Quadrangle. The architect will take the information he received from all of the conversations to develop a preliminary design for the formal entrance and a conceptual design for lighting on campus.

    Student opinions varied widely at the open meeting. Although issues of safety and light pollution were raised relative to lighting the campus buildings and walkways, the discussion focused mainly on what to do with the open space where the tennis courts once stood at University Avenue.

    Second-year Evan Hill-Ries said the formal entrance is significant because it is the University’s opportunity to make a first impression on campus visitors. Maya Ganguly, a second-year student, said she does not see a formal entrance at 58th Street and University Avenue. Ganguly and several other attendees said they view Cobb Gate as the University’s formal, Gothic entrance. The tennis courts, by contrast, “were a kind fence and a kind wall,” said Ganguly, who added that the east end of the Main Quadrangle should remain a friendly, student space.

    Suggestions for the east end of the quadrangle included creating a sculpture garden, a cloister, a low fence or hedge, a seating area, a row of trees, formal gardens or another building to enclose the quadrangle.

    McIntosh said he would create several design options that embody some of the students’ ideas. With such varied opinions on the future of the Main Quadrangle’s landscape, McIntosh, joking about the challenge before him, said, “No matter what I do, I am probably going to offend someone!”

    Sasaki Associates has designed master plans, landscape architecture and buildings for more than 200 colleges and universities across the country. Among their landscape architectural projects are the landscape master plans for Vassar College and Rice University and an update of the visual concepts and historic spaces of Purdue University’s 1924 master plan. Other institutional examples of their designs include the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., and the Smithsonian Institution’s Enid Haupt Gardens.

    McIntosh will return to campus for a follow-up town hall meeting Tuesday, May 23, with preliminary designs for the quadrangle entrance. He also will discuss early design concepts for lighting the quadrangles.