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Highlights and Worries in New Master Plan

April 21, 2010

Javed Jasani
Highlights and Worries in New Master Plan

The CMC Master Plan has recently been released after being unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees. The plan contains dramatic changes that have caused alarm in our small community, which fears its intimate atmosphere may be sacrificed to the Board's agenda for growth.

The plans were formulated based on a proposal to expand the student body from 1150 to 1400 (the maximum allowed in accordance with the College’s Constitution). The rest of the plan describes how the College will reach its "full potential." Fear not - the sacred student-to-faculty ratio will be preserved at 8:1. But how will the College accommodate all these new students and simultaneously improve the physical campus with the “new or renovated academic facilities, a new fitness and athletic center, a new campus center, and the potential development of an Alumni House” all mentioned in President Gann's email? These objectives may require diverse and potentially startling changes to the CMC landscape.

The plan assumes that, in order to continue attracting the best faculty and students, the College requires newer and more numerous facilities. This will be accomplished through a set of goals and objectives, which include:

  • Making a clear vision for CMC allowing the improvements to strengthen the identity of the College.

  • Increasing the aesthetics of CMC.

  • Increasing the sense of community through greater opportunities for interaction.

  • Environmentally responsible development and planning.

  • Better interior and exterior infrastructure.

  • Alternative strategies for meeting parking, mobility, and service needs and maintenance.

But what does this actually mean for CMC?

Bauer Center will first be the first major building torn down, to be replaced with a campus center, which will provide a real entrance to Ninth Street. "Much like the Smith Campus Center at Pomona, this central building would have an open, adaptable ground floor, and would house mail facilities, dining options and lounge spaces," says Buildings and Grounds Commitee member Lucia Foulkes. Collins will be replaced and the new dining hall will be located further north near the new campus center. One wonders whether this will cause more South Quad residents to frequent Frary, and widen the North Quad-South Quad social gap. Perhaps anticipating this worry, the Master Plan only has one dining hall, maintaining the sense of community fostered by Collins. To ASCMC President Tammy Phan, "one dining hall means that we still haven't grown too large," and that there still is a "central meeting and eating area."

The temporary offices, sardonically referred to as "Trailer Park West" by some peeved professors, will finally be removed and replaced with an eastern expansion of Parents Field. Linked with the new campus center, Parents Field will form the "heart" of campus. The athletic fields to the east will be replaced with a new residential complex - an "East Quad" - consisting of two halls facing each other around a courtyard and a series of gardens. The student apartments will be renovated, but Phillips will be demolished to make room for a Social Pavilion and Recreational Pool. The Hub will be gone as well, replaced by an academic building with a clear path to Scripps.

Of course, the Stags and Athenas will have a new place to shine. Ducey Gym will be replaced with a new Fitness and Athletic Center, and the track and football fields will be converted to intramural and club sport fields. The varsity soccer field will be moved across 6th Street and the rest of the varsity sports' fields including football, track and field, baseball and softball will be situated in the East Athletic Expansion, across Claremont Boulevard from the apartments.

A substantial overhaul of the College's pathways is also planned, throughout new and old quads alike. Such pathways are primarily responsible for connecting the campus and for welcoming visitors. Major axis will be redrawn to make for better navigation throughout CMC, and for clearer entrances to the College from various points. These entrances will be more aesthetically pleasing - the first of them being the Kravis Center itself. Trimming and lighting are small aspects of the plan that may have a surprising effect on the look of CMC in the short run.

Overall, these changes sound dramatic, and indeed they are. However, the Master Plan makes a concerted effort to preserve the intimate nature of CMC while strengthening the positive characteristics. "The College has done a lot of planning and group sessions with students," says Phan, suggesting that we have had and will continue to have a voice in CMC's future. The architecture of the new buildings will flow with those surrounding them, attempting to create an aesthetically-cohesive campus from two conflicting styles: the utilitarian concrete structures from our founding and the modern masterpieces designed by Architect Rafael Vinoly and CO Architects, among others. Pleasing everyone who enjoys the California sunshine, the plan calls for more open and green spaces round campus and gives them a practical purpose beyond mere enjoyment. The green spaces are designed for better "natural" drainage during rains.

While the changes can seem intimidating, our most characteristic features are here to stay. "It's reassuring to know that some things will never change," says Foulkes. "In 25 years, when some of us will have kids at CMC, North Quad will still be here to remind us of our youthful exploits."  The buildings thoughtfully chosen to remain represent our core CMC values and culture; polished up a bit, but essentially unchanged.

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