BY COLE McNANNA // Feb. 12, 2018 //
To the tune of $22 million, Curry College is building on its academic strengths in healthcare and the sciences.
The new Science and Integrated Learning Commons, the college’s first new academic building in 12 years, is scheduled to open in January 2019. It will eventually connect the Science Building and Levin Library, enclosing the southwest corner of the academic quad.
Following SILC’s debut, the Science Building will receive an interior renovation set to finish in August later that same year.
The Academic and Advanced Performance Center, which opened in 2006, was Curry’s most recently constructed academic building. Bell Hall, which opened in 2014, is largely a residence hall but also features classroom and learning spaces.
CBT Architects, which designed many of the college’s newer buildings, including the Student Center and Bell, produced a video of what SILC will eventually look like.
The addition has been in the administration’s sights for a long time, said President Ken Quigley, noting a need to improve academic facilities, especially the aging Science building. He said Curry is working to provide students with the best opportunities for success in their fields of study.
The new building will feature approximately 22,000 square feet over three floors, with classrooms, labs, offices and study spaces throughout. And although “Science” is in the building’s name—until someone makes a sizable enough donation to earn naming rights—the facility won’t be restricted to only those students.
SILC will feature individual study spaces and rooms for group collaboration, some of which will be open 24 hours of the day. In addition, the building will house a first-floor café.
Susan Pennini, vice president of institutional planning, said the college wants to “wow” students with architecture that revives the campus while at the same time better serving their needs.
She mentioned drawing students into the building and ultimately getting them to think, “Oh, this is here, too? I need this.” To that end, SILC will house various academic enrichment offices, including the Writing Center, the Speaking Center, and the Academic Success and Advising offices.
Pennini went on to echo President Quigley’s thoughts of creating the “Student Center of the quad,” giving students another option for study spaces, dining, and places to relax and take a breath.
Freshman Communication major Dan Coughlin said he looks forward to making use of the new space.
“I’m excited for it to go up because I’ll have a spot to do my homework,” said Coughlin. “I never do it in my room; I’m too distracted. But it’ll be good to go somewhere and bang it all out in one sitting.”
However, another student was hesitant to jump onto the bandwagon of acceptance for this new building.
“The issues Curry has been having with the student body and how they’ve been interacting with the hate crimes…is there a way to put [the money] towards that kind of stuff?” asked sophomore Communication major Mark Vranos.
“But if this building is going to be helpful in another way, then great,” he added.
Pennini said the building is part of an ongoing effort to bolster the college’s retention rate—the percentage of first-year students who return for their second year—and to improve academic support services.
“Buildings are a reflection of the ideas we have,” she added.
Those ideas clearly involve a lot of glass, as one side of the building is almost entirely windows, adding a modern touch to the traditional brick-and-mortar and Tudor-style campus.
The building’s extension into part of the library’s parking lot will force the disappearance of a handful of parking spots on a campus already dealing with parking issues. But with Public Safety now in the building previously used by Health Services, more parking spaces are available in the Mayflower lot.
Senior Maddie Libuda believes students will enjoy the new facilities and is only moderately disappointed that she won’t get to make use of them herself.
“I think I’m OK with it because the last four years we’ve had the new Bell building and a few new buildings come…1016 [Brush Hill Road] is nice,” the Sociology major said. “It would have been nice to have 24-hour study lounges on campus, but other than that I don’t really think we’re missing out on anything.”
If she’s going to miss anything, it could be the overhanging tree that always welcomed you to the Quad on a brittle 10-degree day; “I think the sad thing was that they ripped out one of the most beautiful trees on campus to put this building in,” the soon-to-be-graduate ended.