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Master Plan Update: A New North Mall

September 5, 2011

Nate Falk
Master Plan Update: A New North Mall

In October 2005, Claremont McKenna College began the process of creating a master plan, which outlines a long-term plan for the campus’ evolution and development. Some of the large, long-term aspects of the plan include a new student center, moving some of the athletic facilities into the pit on the other side of Claremont Boulevard, opposite the Senior Apartments, and turning Phillips into a recreational pool. Although these more monumental projects are on hold until after the City of Claremont approves the plan, some of the pieces are beginning to fall into place. Developments in the master plan’s implementation include:

The North Mall Project

Matthew G. Bibbens ‘92, Vice-President for Administration and Planning, has confirmed that CMC plans to completely overhaul the North Mall as soon as the designs are approved. The North Mall is the section of North Quad that extends from Heggblade Center to the new Kravis Center building and includes the Flamson Plaza, the Athenaeum, the Hub, and the McKenna Auditorium entrance space. The administration hopes to accomplish a number of goals with this project:

Claremont McKenna’s campus sits on approximately a 3% grade from North to South, which creates a slightly sloped North Mall, making the current entrances to the Athenaeum, McKenna Auditorium, and the Hub hard for disabled people to navigate. Design plans would flatten out the walkway between the North and South ends creating a long, gradual ramp that makes the space more friendly to people with disabilities.

In an effort to make this same section of campus more open, plans include one long gradual set of waterfall steps that run from McKenna Auditorium all the way to the West side of the Hub. This means that instead of having separate entrances to McKenna, the Hub, and Heggblade, with retaining walls in between, one set of steps would allow for better accessibility to the buildings, as well as a great spot to read, hang out, or hold outdoor events. "We want to make this area more connected," said Bibbens.

The current space between the Hub and the Athenaeum contains two walkways on either side of a large swath of grass. With the overhaul, the administration hopes to, instead, have one single path running down the center of the quad with grass on either side. Then, the outdoor space in front of the Athenaeum can be used to hold indoor/outdoor events and add more space in front of the hub for students to use. Also, in an effort to meet demands for better outdoor classroom space, the plan includes the creation of an outdoor terraced amphitheater-like space in front of Adams hall for teachers to hold outdoor classes if they so choose.

As for the fountain, the Bibbens stated that the administration is working with the architect on  how best to incorporate an upgraded fountain into the new designs that meets the needs of students such as ponding, senior thesis party, sitting in while reading, etc. and also blends well with the other materials used in the project.

The Kravis Center

Unless you rarely leave your room, you have probably noticed that there is a massive, beautiful, new $75+ million building at the West end of campus. The Kravis Center, which houses classrooms, five of the ten research institutes, faculty offices, Faculty Support West, and the Office of Admission and Financial Aid, is nearly done. While the building is ready for operational use and classes as planned, there are still a few finishing touches to be made before the official dedication on October 21st.

The most obvious unfinished piece is the “living room," more affectionately known on campus as "the cube."  The glass dwelling in front of the main building remains unfinished due to problems with interior materials, and construction crews are still testing pieces of the reflection pool surrounding the building in order to best achieve the desired effect. Many of the other unfinished pieces are minor. Landscapers have yet to determine suitable ground cover for the 3rd and 4th floor balconies, some planters have yet to be placed in courtyards, and the administration is experimenting with clearer and more accurate signage.


The remaining construction behind the Kravis Center, on Columbia Ave will create more street parking for the new Admissions Office, while simultaneously creating an outdoor patio at the east end of the Honnold-Mudd library.

The Big Picture

The college’s master plan is currently undergoing an environmental impact review by the city of Claremont, and the city is expected to either approve or recommend amendments to the plan by the end of the year. The city’s approval is important, as it is needed for CMC to begin construction on its other long-term goals. After the city approves the plan, however, the first big project CMC hopes to undertake is the complete overhaul of the fitness center. Designs for this project have already been drawn, but the college has not yet found sufficient funding for the project.

The college may be young, but the administration remains intent on upgrading the campus to fit the changing needs of its faculty and students. The college is ready, let's hope the donors are too.


Want more articles like this? You may also be interested in an update on all construction during the summer of 2011 at CMC, a Kravis Center Photoessay or inside the Kravis Center.

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