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What’s happening to Carson Hall?

Sarah Banks and Maddy Dillon, Staff Writers

With the loss of Carson, the lack of academic space is becoming an increasingly important issue on campus. The hope is to remedy the lack of classroom and student space with a new build- ing, but the process is still in the early stages of development and it is not yet decided what the new building will contain. What is certain is that more academic and student life space is needed.

“We have a plan for where offices and classrooms will be placed for the next three years,” President Sandy Pfeiffer said. “At this point, it would be ideal to have a new building at the end of those three years, but only time will tell if that timeline is feasible.”

Space consultants from Blake Consulting visited during the first week of March to assess Wilson’s current and future space needs. Exactly what the new building will contain – academics, a student space, or a combination of the two – has yet to be determined. The process is still in the initial stage of planning and assessing the college’s need is paramount to meeting the spatial needs for current and future students, faculty and staff.

The college's administration will consider what to do with the space and if a new building will go up

The design process consists of a three-part plan. The first part is to raze Carson. With the loss of such an historic building, the hope is to salvage certain parts, including the clock, parts of the wood floors, windows and bricks. However, the extent to which these items are saved will rely on the cost of the demolition.

“It’s important to consider the old with the new,” Pfeiffer said. “We’re hoping to use parts of Carson in some way, but noth- ing has been decided yet.”

The second step is a feasibility study to determine how many donations the college can raise through fundraising. That process has just been started through an outside feasibility firm who have been contracted to give an initial assessment of the college’s fundraising abilities.

The third step is to determine what kind of building the college needs.

“We’re still in the pre-design stage,” Steve Farrell, architect, said. “We need to know how many offices and classrooms we need before we start designing them. And we need to plan out exactly what the energy performance goals are. This is the step where student and faculty input is essential.”

Farrell hopes that the college will continue to push the boundaries of green building.

“The college was the first to have an LEED certification in North Carolina ten years ago with Orr Cottage,” Farrell said. “It was ground-breaking at that point, but now it’s standard for building. If we want to continue to be innovative, the next step may be a Living Building.”

Living buildings follow specific guidelines that strive for higher environmental and sustainable standards in location, construction and energy efficiency. Farrell credits Natasha Shipman with introducing the concept to the college.

The dream of a new building has been around for several years, but with Carson out of commission, the need for next academic space has intensified.

“The consultants who came to campus a few weeks ago assessed the college’s current space needs,” Deb Myers, dean of stu- dents said. “And some of that assessment was how to use the current space we have in a bet- ter way.”

Unfortunately, most students will be graduated by the time the building is ready for use.

“I think that’s tough to realize. The current planning is probably going to be for the next genera- tion of students,” Myers said.
But the goals of a building are for long-term use.

“What I think is important is thinking about how this campus wants to use this building for the next twenty years and more,” Pfeiffer said.

Duke University is also talking about a designing a living building.

“If we want to continue to lead the way in green building, a living building would next step,” Farrell said. “If we can, it would also be great to beat Duke.”


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