Upcoming Chase Hall Renovations
Dear Members of the Bates Community,
We write to share news about the renovation of Chase Hall, which will begin at the end of the winter semester and will reopen at the start of the 2023-2024 academic year. This project will create a new hub for student programs and services in the center of the Bates campus, and improve the accessibility and circulation for the building. Restoration of common spaces such as Chase and Hirasawa Lounges, and new technology-enabled conference rooms will add high-quality, multi-purpose programming spaces on campus. The renovations will also provide collaborative spaces for students, staff, and faculty, including a variety of open areas with soft seating and several private meeting rooms.
Named for George Colby Chase, the second president of Bates, Chase Hall is an iconic campus landmark, occupying nearly one city block on Campus Avenue. For decades, Chase Hall was known to Bates students as the center of campus life and home to events large and small. While Chase maintains much of its original presence, the building has been added to or incrementally renovated no fewer than five times —in 1949, 1966, 1971, 1978, and 2014. Over time, several original functions have moved, most notably Commons in 2008 and the post office and the college store in 2016.
Bates’ Institutional Plan, developed in 2016 with broad community input and endorsed by the Faculty and the Board of Trustees, called for a re-imagining of Chase Hall. We now have an opportunity to reshape and revitalize the building, updating and upgrading Chase to complement recent renovations to the Bobcat Den and the Office of Intercultural Education. When finished, the building will be more accessible, more vibrant, and a center for student services.
Renovating Chase for the Future
Several departments and services are currently located in Chase Hall, including the Office of Intercultural Education, Office of Campus Life, Office of Residence Life and Health Education, elements of the Purposeful Work program, and the Bobcat Den. By renovating the building, we can unify core student services under one roof and create much-needed space for new programs and social gathering.
An initial renovation of the Office of Intercultural Education was completed in 2014 – a modern rethinking of space that is actively and successfully used by students and staff. This revitalized space prompted further consideration of new uses for Chase Hall. The aim is to bring even more student-facing services offices into the building, including the Center for Purposeful Work and the Office of Community Standards.
New entrances on Campus Avenue and Franklin Walk, along with new connective corridors, new stair towers and a new elevator will greatly improve building accessibility and circulation for occupants and visitors and allow a much more welcoming and inclusive presence. Franklin Walk is the pedestrian thoroughfare where Franklin Street had once extended into campus, with Chase on the western side and Muskie and Gray Cage on the east, leading to the Class of 1910 gate just past Alumni Gym headed towards Alumni Walk and Commons.
Students will find new and vibrant spaces added to support student clubs, organizations, various other co-curricular activities, social events, and programs. There will also be an increase in the number of meeting rooms. From new common lounge areas to updated furniture and a streamlined access hallway to the Office of Intercultural Education, this project will address many challenges identified by students and staff over the last several years.
Temporary Relocation of Existing Offices and Campus Implications
During the Chase Hall revitalization project, the Office of Campus Life, the Office of Intercultural Education (OIE), and the Office of Residence Life & Health Education will move to 96 Campus Avenue. Located between the Campus Avenue Field and St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, this newly acquired building will keep these offices together to seamlessly serve students during the Chase renovation.
At 96 Campus Avenue, students will have similar programming spaces to those currently available in Chase Hall (e.g., Skelton and Hirasawa Lounges and Chase 119) for clubs, organizations, and student groups, as well as organization storage space. Campus partners will work closely with students and programs to ensure a smooth transition. Our collective goal is to make 96 Campus Ave a vibrant, student-friendly space that is easy to navigate and to make meaningful connections while we make these important improvements and updates to Chase Hall.
While Chase Hall is being revitalized, the entire building will be offline so that core systems can be upgraded and construction can be safely completed. Importantly, the Bobcat Den will be closed for the year. We are actively developing alternative programming to support the Bates community while it is offline. The Bobcat Express pickup location and the Greyhound Bus Stop will be blocked due to construction fencing; updates on these services will be provided to the community by Campus Safety.
The campus community should expect to see the staff and offices located in Chase Hall being relocated to 96 Campus Ave. at the end of the Winter Semester (late April). Construction fencing will begin to appear in early June, and Franklin Walk between Chase and Muskie will be blocked to pedestrian access. Similarly the sidewalk in front of Chase will be closed to pedestrian and vehicular access.
We recognize the campus disruption and inconvenience that are part of campus improvements, and we thank you for your patience and understanding.
In April we will offer zoom opportunities to review the work and scope of the renovation project, and we hope to see you there. If you have questions about this project, please share your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director of Capital Planning and Construction
Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer