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Pitzer Participant - Winter 2004
Pitzer's New Living Spaces
From the outset, the Master Planning Process that was undertaken early in 2000 had one clear goal: the redesign of our physical spaces to reinvigorate the intellectual and social community. With this in mind, an ad hoc campus facilities committee—consisting of faculty, students, administrators, alumni and trustees—worked for almost three years with the architectural firm, Sasaki Associates, to devise the Master Plan for Pitzer College, a 20-year plan that will accommodate the College’s current and projected needs, both curricular and non-curricular. That accomplished, they concentrated on the development of a Master Housing Plan, because early in the planning process it had become clear that revitalizing residential life should be the foremost priority in breathing new intellectual and social life into the campus.
Shifting the center of campus
The realization that cost considerations favored replacement rather than renovation of our residence halls opened the door to many exciting possibilities for the revitalization of residential life. Foremost, the Master Plan calls for an ingenious shift of the campus’s physical center to the northeast. By constructing three new residence hall complexes around the Gold Student Center, residential and recreational facilities will be adjacent to and integrated with one another. New construction also provides the opportunity of incorporating new materials and techniques—the chance to “think green” and “build green” and employ concepts that speak to the College’s commitment to social and environmental responsibility. Another great advantage of new construction is the opportunity to expand the indoor-outdoor use of buildings and adjacent open spaces—an obvious, but often disregarded solution for the Southern California lifestyle. In doing so, we will increase the visibility and accessibility of all our gardens and integrate our sixteen signature Arboretum gardens within a larger Arboretum-like landscape for the campus at large.
The most significant aspect of building anew is the opportunity it provides to profoundly reenvision residential life. As we engage in the design and construction of these new living spaces, we are presented with countless opportunities to re-think the best ways to create an environment outside the classroom where students continue to learn and experience personal, social and intellectual growth. Shifting the center of campus is so much more than simply a reconfiguration of our physical spaces. It is a way for Pitzer College to reassert its core values and give heightened meaning to the designation “a liberal arts, residential college.”
A living environment to nurture social and intellectual life
Pitzer College now has the unique opportunity to redefine what it means to be a residential college. Living and learning will be interwoven in the new residence halls through the incorporation of spaces for music, art, technology and socialization. Within the halls, we are planning dedicated areas for study, library collections, social gathering and student affairs activities. Expect themed common areas such as a Science Corridor, an International Corridor or an Environmental Responsibility Alcove. We plan to develop programming around many of these themes. Outside, there will be “quiet gardens” perhaps with such names as the Scholar’s Garden, the Zen Garden or the Sculpture Garden.
Our Plan of Action
We will build in stages. In three phases spanning a 10- to 15-year period, we will increase the number of beds from 615 to 752, thereby achieving a 93% on-campus residency rate (comparable to our peer colleges in Claremont and elsewhere). In Phase I, we will construct three new residence halls with 312 beds. By shifting the center of campus to the northeast, the Master Plan will create a true campus “center” unifying academic and residential areas. Significantly, the Plan serves to lend greater definition to the special character of the Pitzer campus among the Claremont campuses.
A note on green building
As we develop the Request for Proposal to design the Phase I residence hall complex, we will incorporate the expectation that environmentally responsible construction techniques and materials will be employed wherever possible, thereby uniting the College’s physical environment and its commitment to social and environmental responsibility. We will “build green,” that is, we will design for sustainability by using renewable resources and being environmentally responsible both in construction and in use of our new facilities. We will design for certification by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the nationally recognized system for designing and constructing environmentally sustainable buildings.