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College to build a new dormitory

MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE IS planning to build a new residence hall for first-year students at the north end of “Battell Beach,” near Coffrin Hall. The new dorm, which would eventually replace Battell Hall, is designed to house up to 284 students.

MIDDLEBURY — Planning is under way for a major building project on the Middlebury College campus, and construction could begin in less than a year, according to a permit application submitted to the town.

A four-story dormitory with a footprint of 20,000 square feet is slated for the northern end of “Battell Beach,” a 12-acre lawn bordered to the south by Forest Hall, which is located at 496 College St., near the top of the hill.

The new dorm, which is intended to house first-year students, will consist of 154 units and a total of 284 beds, according to the project narrative, which was prepared by Otter Creek Engineering.

This does not mean the college expects to substantially increase its student body, however.

Once complete, the new building will replace Battell Hall, a 66-year-old dormitory bordering the same lawn. Battell can currently house up to 251 students a year, according to Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration David Provost.

Battell would eventually be torn down to make way for a new art museum.

DESIGN

The college sought and received student input on the design of the building.

Topping the students’ wish list were more common spaces for studying and gathering, fully accessible rooms and individualized and fully accessible bathrooms, Provost told the Independent.

The proposed residence hall is intended to support and complement the objectives of the Middlebury College Master Plan, which was approved by the town in 2008 and which outlines the eventual need for new housing on campus.

And it will blend in.

With a façade “primarily composed of stacked field-stone veneer with select brick and marble accents,” the new dorm “will reinforce the campus’s architectural character and scale,” according to the project narrative.

Two wings, one running east-west and the other running north-south, will “create an intimate exterior space between the new Residence Hall and Coffrin Hall to the north and east.”

Its location on campus is meant to “intentionally disrupt the vast expanse” of Battell Beach and “will define ‘Bicentennial Park’ to the north,” the document says. “In line with the College’s Master Plan it’s these open space areas that are considered the most important factors in linking the campus together in a safer, more continuous network of spaces.”

The building does not yet have a name, Provost said.

TIME LINE

A July 12 Middlebury Development Review Board hearing on the college’s permit application was pushed back to Aug. 9 because of a scheduling conflict.

This week the college began relocating underground utilities to prepare for the project, Provost said.

Middlebury College’s permit application states that “ground-breaking for the new residence hall is anticipated for early 2022, but Provost said nothing has been scheduled yet.

The Board of Trustees’ Building and Grounds Committee is expected to propose a time line when it meets in October.

Provost told the Middlebury Campus newspaper in May that the project would take about 18 months to complete. The soonest it could open its doors to students would be January 2023.

The launch date for a planned fundraising campaign to cover construction costs for the new dorm has not yet been announced, Provost told the Independent.

AROUND CAMPUS

While plans move forward for the new dorm, other buildings on campus are getting some attention.

Last summer, the college completed “a gut rehabilitation of academic spaces” in Munroe Hall, which involved bringing “the entire building back to the studs,” Provost said. “The building is now fully accessible with elevator access on all floors.”

This summer two floors of Voter Hall will be converted from student housing to faculty offices for the Luso-Hispanic Studies program, and Warner Hall will see similar work as that in Munroe.

Later this year Dana Auditorium will undergo “a gut rehab to make it fully accessible and bring it up to date with state-of-the-art AV and sound system for film viewing,” Provost said.

Whenever the museum proposed for Battell Hall’s current spot gets built, it would house the collections and programming for the Middlebury College Museum of Art, which is currently located in the Mahaney Arts Center, Provost said. Vacated museum space in the MAC would be “reprogrammed for the performing arts.”

Even further in the future, the college anticipates building a new student center where Proctor Dining Hall and the neighboring tennis courts are now located.

Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].

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