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Sense of Place

A Campus Home Base

Kim T. Adamson Alumni House at Westminster College (Utah)
University Business, May 2008

ALUMNI OF WESTMINSTER College, founded in 1875 and located in Salt Lake City, finally have a place on campus to call home.

FUNCTION: Alumni building with reception areas, conference rooms, offices, and a meeting room seating up to 100.

PROBLEM: While alumni events could be held almost anywhere on campus, alumni didn't have a place all their own, explains Director of Alumni and Parent Relations Dana Tumpowsky. "When they return to campus, you can often find them wandering." The former director of public relations for the college was brought back three years ago to help strengthen the alumni program, and she points out that making that kind of effort sends a mixed message when "you don't have a place that says 'alumni' except for a little office in the ground floor of a residence hall."

Alumna Kim T. Adamson made a large donation for renovation of an old, recently acquired home adjacent to campus. But after a cost analysis, the board determined that the house (which needed seismic updates and was on the small side for alumni gathering needs) should be razed so the design team could start from scratch.

SOLUTION: The college purchased a property next to that house and plans got underway, with architect Steve Crane of VCBO Architecture leading the project for his alma mater. Crane, who thinks of every single alum as a client, says that the exterior had to complement both the small scale of the residential buildings on one side and the larger scale of campus buildings on the other. "It's a transitional building," he says, adding that it picks up the colors, textures, and brick of the campus structures and then the rooflines and scale from the neighborhood ones.

Inside, fireplaces and open reception areas make the space inviting. Work-study students manage the reception desk, and Tumpowsky and her small staff have offices. She plans to display art by alumni (which can be purchased) and have yearbooks, trophies, and other campus memorabilia around the 5,000-square-foot house for browsing. The two-story building also has a conference room and garden-level grand meeting room, where events can spill onto a large patio. Emeritus faculty can use an office on that floor, so visiting alumni may even bump into a former professor.

Tumpowsky says the facility sends this message to alumni, "Yes, do come back. We value you. Please give back of your time, your talent, and your treasures."

TIMELINE: Completed this spring, with ribbon-cutting scheduled for during reunion weekend in the fall.

COST: $1.4 million ($500,000 is from a lead gift, and another $100,000 is being raised with a "Buy a Brick" campaign).

ARCHITECT: Salt Lake City-based VCBO Architecture

Construction of the PAC Center, a 56,000-square-foot athletic, fitness, and recreational facility at Monroe Community College (N.Y.): The current phys ed complex was built when annual enrollment was about 8,400; now it's 35,000. Athletes at Monroe, ranked first in the National Junior College Athletic Association, must work out as early as 5 a.m. or as late as 10 p.m. due to overcrowding, which the $12 million PAC Center will ease. Clough Harbour & Associates/CHA Sports designed the building, to be completed by this fall.

Construction of the University Center for the Performing Arts, a 73,000-square-foot facility for music and theater programs at Seton Hill University (Pa.): A partnership between the institution, the city, the county, and other local groups, the $21 million center will serve as the completing piece of the city of Greensburg's revitalized cultural district. MacLachlan Cornelius & Filoni Architects designed the building. Expected completion is spring 2009.

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