Trustees Approve New Academic Building



A sketch depicts the prototype for a new building to house the Computer Science department.


Last week, the Middlebury board of trustees approved a $4.5 million budget for the construction of a temporary building on the south side of the parking lot behind Johnson Memorial Building.

For twelve years, the building will house the computer science department. It will also provide office space to faculty and staff while the college updates Munroe and Warner Halls to improve accessibility and safety and resolve mechanical and environmental issues.

McLeod Kredell Architects, a firm on Frog Hollow Alley in Middlebury, will design the building. The firm is run by John McLeod, assistant professor of architecture, and Stephen Kredell, who teaches at Norwich University.

If the board of trustees approves the firm’s design in January, construction will begin in June 2018. Construction is expected to last approximately a year, so the building will open in the fall of 2019.

“The initial plan is that the computer science department will move in and occupy one floor, and the other floor will be open office space that will be used by a couple of departments,” McLeod said.

One reason for the construction of the new building is an increased demand for space for the college’s science programs.

“If the size of required courses continues to increase and the department keeps expanding, then I think [space] could become an issue. It’s my understanding that part of the reason for the new computer science building is because other science departments need more lab space that is currently being used as a computer science lab room,” said Tricia Nelsen ’19, a computer science major.

The new building’s design will fulfill all the computer science department’s operational requirements.

“We’ve already worked closely with the folks in the computer science department to get a sense of what their needs are and we’re working to accommodate all their requests,” McLeod said.

“All of the computer science department’s spaces will be in there, including classrooms, teaching labs, research labs, faculty offices and administrative offices, meeting spaces, open study spaces, a space that’s going to double as a seminar room and a student lounge, and a common area,” McLeod added.

As the architects design this temporary building, they are aiming to be as energy efficient as possible. They will have to meet the Vermont energy code, but they hope to surpass it.

“If you look at the size and shape of the building before you look at technological systems, if you know where the sun is and where trees are, you can minimize the work that the building’s systems have to do for heating and cooling. If you’re thoughtful about size and shape, you can get a lot of value right there,” McLeod said.

The building’s frame will be made by a company that manufactures steel to architects’ specifications so they can erect their buildings quickly.

“The nice thing about steel is that it has a very high recycled content, so in many ways steel is an environmentally conscious building material. And then of course steel can be recycled as well,” McLeod said.

The new building will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). McLeod Kredell Architects has worked with the college in the past to bring other buildings up to ADA standards. “I think, without exception, all the renovations we’ve done have been to bring buildings up to compliance. It’s definitely a priority of the college and it’s also just the right thing to do,” McLeod said.

The final step in the building’s planning process will be approval by the town of Middlebury’s design advisory committee and its design review board.

“A couple of sites were ruled out by the board because they thought they were too close to town neighborhoods. They’re just trying to be thoughtful about [where they put the building],” McLeod said. “It’s part of being a good neighbor and being considerate and respectful of the community.”