Ground breaking for $17M Bates building set

Bates College will break ground for a new $17 million academic building on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the corner of Bardwell Street and Andrews Road.

“This is the most ambitious building project undertaken in the history of the college,” said Bates President Donald W. Harward. Construction of the building will create an estimated 40 temporary trade jobs and will involve nearly $17.5 million of resources, most of which will directly impact the Maine economy.

In response to the pressing concerns for classroom and faculty office spaces that complement the teaching and curriculum of the college, members of the Bates community developed a comprehensive program for a new academic structure. The new building, to be prominently positioned on the Bates campus overlooking Lake Andrews, will provide classroom, laboratory and faculty office space for seven social-science departments and four interdisciplinary programs.

“The building will invigorate the departments and programs it serves, and energize the entire campus and community,” Harward said. “This is an exciting time for Bates.”

Included in the broad spectrum of spaces planned for the new building are large classrooms, smaller seminar rooms, department spaces, laboratories, computer workrooms, and a 125-seat lecture hall, known as the “kaleidoscope” classroom because of its multiple and flexible seating arrangements complemented by computer-controlled capabilities, including state-of-the art video conferencing and computer display.

The building’s signature space will be an 8,000 square-foot, three-story glass atrium, overlooking Lake Andrews.

Private donors have provided about $8.3 million in advance gifts and pledges to the academic building project, which includes new construction as well as relocating the maintenance building and heating plant, formerly on the site of the proposed building. The new heating and maintenance facilities have opened behind Merrill Gymnasium. The brick smokestack on the maintenance building, long a landmark for campus visitors, was removed brick by brick last summer, just prior to the opening of the heating plant in the fall. The maintenance office and shops opened this spring.

The college hopes to provide up to $7 million in institutional resources and plant reserve funds to underwrite the project cost. The fundraising project includes endowed maintenance of the new building, according to Bernard Carpenter, vice president for financial affairs.

The cost of moving the maintenance building and heating plant will be financed out of institutional funds. The balance to be raised from gift sources totals $7 million.

Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott of Boston is the architect. The new academic building, expected to be completed in 1999, will be a four-story brick structure rising on the campus corner of Bardwell Street and Andrews Road, between Lane and Smith halls.

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