Turf Battle: The Atwater Landscape Design Competition

Categories: Campus community, Students

Dear Students:

I write to invite your participation in a student design contest to revamp the north end of campus, specifically, the open landscape between Hall A and Hall B. The remainder of this memo describes the scope of the project and explains how students can get involved, so please keep reading.

In September of 2004, the College finished work on Hall A, Hall B, and the Atwater Dining Hall, and these buildings became part of the Middlebury landscape. In the design of Atwater Commons, the architects gave special attention to where these buildings should be sited and how they would relate to the surrounding area. For instance, the landscape architects engaged on the project imagined the open space between Hall A and Hall B functioning like a town green or “outdoor room.” For a variety of reasons, the potential of this open space has not been realized. The space sits vacant and underutilized—a far cry from Battell Beach, which is a magnet for student activity.

We would like to change this by encouraging students to submit plans for how this open space and the pathways surrounding it should be developed. By “developed,” we do not mean to suggest that the College should build in this open space. Rather, we have in mind plans for improving the landscaping, planting additional vegetation, and creating recreational opportunities. We do not have a set vision for how this space should look and feel—just a conviction that it can and should be enhanced.

We therefore invite interested students to develop mini Master Plans to guide the development of the Atwater open space. Plans should be submitted to the office of the Vice President for Administration (Old Chapel 207) by Monday, February 7. The plans will then be reviewed by the Master Plan Implementation Committee (MPIC), the body charged with insuring that any future development of the campus is consistent with the College’s design standards. A budget is in place, and Tim Parsons, the College horticulturist, will manage the project once it is approved and will also provide guidance during the competition phase. Assuming that the competition attracts a sufficient amount of student interest, the MPIC will choose no more than three finalists to present their plans at a campus forum, to be held in early February. The MPIC will then select a winning proposal, which the College will implement over the course of the spring and summer.

Design work like this does not take place in a vacuum, but rather must respond to environmental conditions, institutional standards, and budget constraints. Consequently, we will be establishing competition guidelines and assembling background materials to guide student participants in their work. These materials are available here.  We will also hold a series of information sessions, including tours of the site, so that students have the background they need to develop effective plans (note that the first tour will take place this Friday, November 5, at 4:00 pm, and begin in front of Atwater Dining Hall. Please see the website for details about other tours). We understand that students with focused interests in architecture, landscape design, and environmental studies may be drawn to this project. However, we also want to provide enough support so that students without any background or exposure to design work may participate in this competition.

We are eager to work with any and all students interested in this project, and look forward to enhancing this important space on our campus.

-Tim

Master Plan Implementation Committee:

Glenn Andres
Jennifer Bleich
Pieter Broucke
Jack Byrne
Andi Lloyd
Bente Madson
John McLeod
Tim Parsons
Tim Spears, Chair

One Response to Turf Battle: The Atwater Landscape Design Competition

  1. Ronald Liebowitz says:

    A great idea, Tim and co. I hope several students or student groups tackle this challenge. Will make a big difference to the campus.

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