"Meet me at Reid Center"
Next fall, the College will begin construction of a new home for its social side, its student activities — and much more. Whitman's new Reid Campus Center, according to dean of students Chuck Cleveland, "will welcome and involve the total Whitman community in the extracurricular life of the College."
Named for Pete Reid, a member of the class of 1949 who has served Whitman as a chief administrator for more than 50 years, the building will incorporate concepts of openness and connectivity, in its interior spaces and in its relationship to the rest of the campus. Inside the new building, you will find far more than the traditional services, such as post office, book store, and cafe. The Reid Campus Center will include a dance hall, a "cyberlounge," effective
work space, and flexible dining and meeting facilities.
The use of natural light and open spaces in the new Reid Campus Center is evident in the interior scene. Large expanses of glass on the south side offer a view of terraced lawns and College Creek.
"We are designing a building that integrates many programs and activities," said Cleveland, "while facilitating interaction among all users. It will be open and connecting, involving, and full of light. There won't be any isolated spots or dark hallways. There will be a flow of activity from one space to another."
Barbara Panzl, associate dean of students, added, "Every space in the facility will be adaptable to multiple purposes. The building will be able to meet any immediate need, but it also will accommodate future requirements as programs change and as student needs and wants evolve."
Reid Center will be constructed on the southwest corner of Park Street and Boyer Avenue, adjacent to the existing Student Center. That building, a former furniture store acquired by the College in 1964, will be removed to make way for parking for the new Campus Center.
The functions and design of Reid Center grew out of extensive interviews with students, faculty, and staff. Built primarily of brick, it will have lots of glass. "People at Whitman favor buildings that look timeless — like Lyman House or Hunter Conservatory — but that incorporate a few modern themes," noted Whitman treasurer Peter Harvey. "A key theme will be the use of large glass surfaces to bring in natural light. This will give the building a welcoming feeling."
Harvey emphasized that the College is committed to a "green" building. Sunlight coming through the large south-facing windows will be used to warm the building, reducing the heating load on the mechanical system, and natural convection techniques will be used to cool the building when the inside temperature is warmer than the outside temperature. "The architects have incorporated a number of other environmentally responsible components," Harvey said. "For example, carpeting will be made from 100 percent post consumer product, and wood paneling will be harvested from certified sustainable yield forests."
Entrances to the three-story building from Park and Boyer will lead to the mid-level floor. "This will enhance connectivity," Harvey explained, "because everything will be within one floor of the spot where you enter the building. Students like to go where they can see and be seen."
Social interaction in the 21st century needs email, too. Just inside the Campus Center entrance will be a cyberlounge — the "living room of the facility," according to Panzl. It will include comfortable chairs, newspapers and magazines, and computers so students can check their email or browse the Internet.
From the cyberlounge, students will be able to meander into a modern cafe, bright with daylight and accessible from all directions.
The cafe will open to a grand multipurpose space, large enough to allow students to host bands and hold dances. "This is the feature students are most excited about," Panzl noted: "the prospect of being able to have big dances and to bring in popular bands. We haven't been able to accommodate those activities for quite a while." The room also will be used for such large-scale activities as alumni banquets, dinner-lectures, and career fairs.
In addition to these spaces, the main floor will feature a formal meeting-and-dining room, with a fireplace and upscale furniture, and the Campus Center Art Gallery for display of faculty, staff, and student artwork.
On the lower level, the ground floor, a coffeehouse will host the campus's bi-weekly Coffeehouse music series, the popular Theatresports, and other small-group performances. "I see the coffeehouse as a way for students to showcase their talents and interests," Panzl enthused. "Students might stage poetry readings, for example, or play the piano for their friends."
"We hope the Reid Center will become a place where everyone — faculty and staff, as well as students — will get together to relax and enjoy each other's company," said Cleveland. "Students need a place where they can get away from the stress of academic life. We want to provide a central location where they can do that and at the same time develop even more friendships with their fellow students and others."
To further encourage such interaction and to give students handy access to services, the Career Center and the Multicultural Office, now housed in Memorial Building, will move to Reid Center. Those offices, along with the Community Service, Public Events, and Student Activities offices, will be located on the second floor.
Also on the second floor, the Pioneer and other student publications will be produced out of a print office. In addition, students will be able to design publications, paint signs, and make posters in a resource room equipped with computers, printers, and worktables. They may reserve one of three workrooms for a weeklong project or hold a club event in one of the meeting rooms.
|Reid Campus Center, south view
Panzl is looking forward to the resource room especially, she said. "It will have ample closets — storage space students haven't had available before. Right now they have supplies and materials for their club projects stuffed in boxes under their beds."
In its location on a mezzanine across from the building's entrance, KWCW will be highly visible, no doubt boosting its already-substantial popularity. Its staff will enjoy a DJ booth, a production studio, storage space, and an office.
The Reid Center's ground floor will contain the greatly enlarged post office, the Outdoor Program shop, and the Whitman College Bookstore. While continuing to serve primarily the Whitman community, the bookstore will incorporate soft seating to encourage lingering, as well as book signings and similar events.
A tree-shaded parking lot and loading dock on the west side of the building will divert truck and car traffic away from pedestrian areas.
"The Reid Center will be a dynamic building," said Cleveland. "That's what I find most exciting. There will be student, faculty, and staff interaction everywhere in the building, overlap of activity from one area to another, and adaptability of space. Plus, there will be a real connection with the outdoors and to the best architecture of the campus."
From the cafe on the south side of the building, a shaded open deck will overlook grassy terraces that lead down to College Creek. The landscape forms a natural amphitheater that holds promise for many kinds of outdoor social events and activities.
"The Reid Center is going to make such a large and positive impact on the life of the College," said Panzl, "in a few years we won't know how we ever did without it."