What's Up With ARH/Carnegie? Phase 1 Building 101

Grinnell College, known as part of the “jewel of the prairie,” will also soon be known for a unique humanities and social sciences hub-- potentially the first of it’s kind in the country. While many institutions nation-wide funnel investments and exciting architecture into new infrastructure, specifically for sciences and athletics, Grinnell plans to upset the trend. Though we have an attractive, inviting athletic complex and phenomenal science building, we are drawing attention by mixing non-arts humanities and social sciences into a new, renovated space. The current Alumni Recitation Hall (ARH) and Carnegie Hall have been long-standing buildings among Grinnell’s campus, (1917 and 1905 respectively) -- so long that the lecture halls, stairways, and bathrooms are becoming too cramped for the College’s 1600 student populace. The renovation of these two halls will fuse them together structurally, preserving parts of the historic structures, while updating their technology and accessibility.

The goal of reconstruction is to create an interactive space for all students (but catering to the non-arts humanities and social science disciplines) to study and hangout, while also implementing optimal areas for speakers, presentations, etc. Ideally, this space will facilitate interdisciplinary work and encourage “powerful connections” to take place, according to Gwenna Ihrie, the student representative on the Building Committee.

There will be a focus on promoting student research, involving updated classroom technology, as well as inviting spaces to stimulate the sharing of ideas and cross connections. To update technology, input from faculty and the EYP architects will be used to determine what technology is beneficial and what could be unnecessary or distracting. Ihrie hopes the new technology will encourage student engagement, but not reliance. She envisions an environment filled with “accessible, but not excessive” technology tools.

The building projects are categorized into three phases. Phase I includes three different projects: the ARH/Carnegie renovation, renovation of Faculty House into the new admissions and visitors center, and a new, improved campus landscaping plan. This phase will also move campus entry point to 8th Street. The budget for Phase I is proposed to be $100 million. This budget includes, according to Kate Walker, College Treasurer, the “building design, construction, and renovation as well as the purchase of needed academic technology and furniture.” To fulfill the proposed budget, the College is already working to fundraise $20 million dollars through gifts, which will likely be met.  It’s anticipated that “a bond issue (debt) will cover” the remaining $80 million. Grinnell’s endowment will not be used to help fundraise the project.

EYP, the architectural firm selected to design the new Humanities and Social Studies Complex, is known for their sustainability and energy efficiency capabilities. They have experience with campus and academic design and planning, as wells as preserving, while modernizing, older structures.