Asheville, NC – October 2, 2018 – The Grand Opening this past Saturday of the two-story, 15,000-square-foot Myron Boon Hall, home to the Social Sciences Division and the MFA Program for Writers, marks the culmination of a $6-million academic building project for Warren Wilson College. In the atrium above the donor wall, large words attributed to Doctors Ann and Mike Rice implore students who enter: “Make life better because you were here.”
“This fall, as we welcome the largest freshman class in the history of the College, this building is fulfilling its purpose as the collaborative environment it was intended to be that enables teaching, learning, critical thinking, and – may I also say – joy,” Warren Wilson College President Lynn M. Morton said at the opening ceremony.
Myron Boon Hall, designed by architects at Lord Aeck Sargent, features six flexible classrooms and meeting spaces, 19 faculty offices, and a large multi-use atrium. Walls between rooms are movable and reconfigurable, allowing groups ranging from as small as 15 in a seminar room to 150 in combined classrooms opening to the atrium. Faculty offices are arranged in “neighborhoods” with shared work spaces and alcoves to encourage collaboration.
The building incorporates technology to support distance learning, video conferencing, language learning, and other networking modalities. The green building certification is not yet complete, but the building was designed to meet LEED Gold standards.
“As trustees, we knew we needed to signal growth with a focus on academic excellence, […] and we couldn’t be prouder of the results,” Board of Trustees Chair Bill Christy said.
Beyond representing a significant investment in academics at Warren Wilson College, the building also symbolizes the strong support of the community. More than 160 individuals and 14 foundations made gifts, and trustees alone pledged over $1.5 million. Vice President for Advancement Zanne Garland gave particular thanks to Myron Boon, the Woodbury Foundation, Ann Rice, Don Cooper, Lisbeth Riis Cooper, and Mack and Janice Pearsall. More than $4 million was raised in a multi-year capital campaign for this building.
Myron Boon Hall stands where historic Carson Hall once stood. The new building incorporates classrooms with glass walls and a beautiful wrap-around veranda, showcasing sweeping views of the college farm, garden, Swannanoa River, and the Swannanoa Mountains beyond. Carson Hall was built in 1926 and was demolished in 2011.
“Myron Boon Hall is about to become a place where wisdom sits and accumulates, and the students who pass through here will always be connected to it, able to return, at least in imagination, to gulp down the messages it stores,” Social Sciences Division Chair and Professor of Anthropology Dr. Ben Feinberg said at the ceremony.
“When there seems no way to handle stress, or [students] wonder how sane people can interpret the same information in different ways,” Feinberg continued, “they will reflect on Boon 210 and the lessons of psychology. When they need to understand why we live in a society with pervasive inequalities that can’t be wished away or ignored, they will drink from 110 in sociology. When they are told that there is no alternative to a world based on greed and competition, or that you cannot be successful while embracing difference and diversity, they can travel back to 212 for the insights of anthropology. When they feel there is nothing you can do or no way to express your voice, [students] will remember Boon: this patio, these alcoves, and the social work and creative writing classes and the infinite varieties and forms of socially engaged action and creative expression.”