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Sunday, Jan 16, 2022

Construction hammers Midd

Author: Zamir Ahmed

After years of construction in the peripheries of campus, projects at the former site of Hillcrest and Starr Library have now brought construction to the center of the College. Construction on these projects began on June 30.
The Donald E. Axinn '51 Center for Literary and Cultural Studies at Starr Library will, upon its completion in the fall of 2008, house the Department of English and American Literatures as well as the Programs in American Studies, Creative Writing and Film and Media Studies. The 81,000 square foot facility will be partially completed by the previous summer, enabling the Language School to begin using it for special events.
The Axinn Center at Starr Library, which is to hold 54 faculty offices, six classrooms, a 70-seat screening room, a production studio, editing room and a restored reading room, will be the fruit of a project seven years in the making. At that time, Donald E. Axinn '51, earmarked a large donation to the College to be put toward the creation of a Center for the Humanities. A businessman, poet, novelist, philanthropist and former Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences of Hofstra University, Axinn has also endowed a chair in English and Creative Writing to the College in 1987, which is currently held Professor Jay Parini.
"The Axinn Center at Starr Library will a place for learning, signifying the importance of humanities at Middlebury," said Axinn. "The building is an expansion of my great pride in the college, and in witnessing how it continues to thrive."
The project, which will cost slightly under 32 million dollars, was designed and is being managed by the architectural firm Childs Bertman Tseckares from Boston while Colchester, Vt.-based Engelberth Construction will serve as the general contractor. In the selection process for the general contractor for the project, the College's decision was strongly influenced by Engelberth's local roots, which gave the company a significant advantage over competing firms.
"We knew we wanted a local company to do the construction," said Tom McGinn, the Middlebury College Project Manager in charge of the Axinn Center. "We had looked at Engelberth in the past for other projects but they hadn't done anything this big. In the past five years, they've done bigger projects so we decided to go with them this time."
In the design of the facility, the College heard from representatives in a broad range of departments on all aspects of the building. A building committee was formed in the first stages of the project while a planning committee, chaired by C.A. Johnson Professor of Art Glenn Andres, influenced the development in its later stages.
"The faculty commented on everything, from the size of the classrooms and the color of the walls to the technology used in the rooms," said McGinn. "They had a lot of input, and continue to have input, throughout the project."
A renovated Hillcrest Hall, which is scheduled to be completed in June 2007, will be home to the Environmental Studies Program and the Office of Environmental Affairs. The four million dollar project will renovate original building and western addition and construct a new two-story addition to the south in place of the already destructed south annex.
Once completed, the 7,900 square foot construction will house 14 faculty offices, a 100-seat lecture hall, a lounge and teaching space, a study and informal meeting areas for students and faculty.
In keeping with the College's existing energy management programs, both facilities have incorporated environmentally-friendly systems into their plans. Among other systems, motion and carbon dioxide sensors will be prevalent throughout Axinn Center at Starr Library, which regulate lighting, temperature and ventilation, while Hillcrest will optimize daylight and natural ventilation in all new spaces.
While the construction of these two buildings looks to strength Middlebury's infrastructure in the coming years, concerns exist that the projects will disturb classes and the work of students and faculty. The projects will, as much as possible, try not to upset the community, but McGinn acknowledges that will not always be possible.
"With the College's previous projects, like the New Library and the Atwater, we were on the edges of campus," said McGinn. "Now, we're right in the middle of the College. If we get complaints, we'll shift things around. We want to accommodate as much as possible. We hope for everyone's input."