Pondside IV will aim to create an entirely new kind of student living for freshmen.

“This building is going to create different opportunities for student interaction and engagement than we’ve ever been able to provide in other first-year student buildings,” Jay Kahn, vice president for finance and planning, said.

According to Kahn, who is in his twenty-sixth year at Keene State College, the plans for this 320-bed dorm building go back a year. He said last year, President Anne Huot received University System of New Hampshire trustee approval to continue a “master plan,” specifically geared to improve freshmen housing.

Kemal Atkins, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, said that a new dorm building is just a part of the ten year master plan KSC has for Residential Life. This master plan includes renovations to existing buildings as well as the construction of brand new buildings. “Our goal is to have seventy percent of our students live on campus. That will include creating more on-campus living opportunities for upperclassmen,” Atkins said.

In June, the president recommended the construction of a new first-year student dorm building. The trustees again approved and KSC began work. According to Kahn, KSC was due for a new freshmen dorm building. “We have not constructed new freshmen housing since Holloway Hall in 1989 and Pondside One in 1993,” Kahn said.

The Pondside IV Planning Committee was appointed soon after trustee approval. Kahn said the committee interviewed four design teams for the new building and chose Perkins+Will, “because of their experience designing living and learning communities on campuses similar to Keene State [College].”

Stephen Messinger, an architect on the project, said, “I think the thing that sets us apart is a strong-working relationship internally.”

Before the team at Perkins+Will presented themselves to the committee, they had already asked students and faculty their opinions on a new dorm building. Messinger said students were interviewed on Appian Way when passing by.

Afterwards, the team presented their ideas to Student Assembly. The living and learning community at Pondside IV will consist of classrooms and other study lounges on the first floor.

David Damon, the principal of the project at Perkins+Will, said some of these classrooms will have retractable walls to change the size of the room. A study room could be potentially opened up into a larger room for presentations, Damon said. “I think this building will be much more academic-oriented,” Kahn said. Kahn said he hopes this building will give students with similar hobbies and study habits a chance to interact with each other.

The design of the building is a T-shape, which Damon said Perkins+Will developed before they were interviewed by KSC. Damon said they came across the shape after answering the question, “How do we create a community, and what size community should we create?”

The team decided the T-shape would work well. It will have a central area in the middle where the three legs meet called “the hub,” according to Messinger.  This will be where the main entrance and elevators are located. Messinger said that students, faculty, Residential Life members and RAs all liked the idea of “the hub” more than any other ideas Perkins+Will presented. There was an overwhelmingly strong response to this common area for the dorm.

Pondside IV will be built where Tisdale Apartments exist today. According to Kahn, these apartments were originally built for married students, but are now just taking up space. They only house 60 students in total, compared to what the new dorm building will house. Tisdale Apartments will be removed after the spring 2015 semester.

In terms of living arrangements, the goal of Pondside IV is to “de-triple” campus. The building will be comprised of 90 percent doubles and ten percent singles. Kahn said “de-tripling” will reduce the amount of roommate conflicts.

“A lot of folks are used to more privacy. A lot of students are used to having their own room, their own space, so privacy is a consideration,” Atkins said. De-tripling also means the removal of all triples in other dorm buildings on campus.

“We can restore all of the doubles back to two person rooms with the addition of three-hundred-and-twenty new beds,” Kahn said.

Kahn said Pondside IV still has a few more steps before construction begins.

The schematic design will be finished by the end of the fall semester and the team will present to the student assembly on Dec. 2. According to Kahn, the design details will be completed by April 2015 and KSC will accept bids for work in April and May.  The school will bring in a construction manager to help them develop a reasonable price range. Construction is scheduled to begin over the summer with an opening of 2016 expected. In the meantime, students are encouraged by the team at Perkins+Will and faculty here at KSC to voice their opinions about the new building.

“Student involvement is an important part of the process, we really believe students should have a say,” Messinger said.


Skyler Frazer can be contacted at sfrazer@keene-equinox.com

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