News in Brief: Campus construction updates include new dorm site preparation

By Charlie Keohane

Abigail Chang
A large area on the north side of campus is fenced off, where contractors have dug a pit to re-lay steam pipes.

This fall, Middlebury is buzzing with construction projects, including site preparation near Bicentennial Hall for a new first-year dorm and renovations of Warner Hall and Dana Auditorium. 

The Board of Trustees approved funding for a conceptual design of construction documents for a new first-year dorm to replace Battell to get the project shovel-ready. This included granting approval to prepare the new construction site. Currently, the steam lines for central campus heating are being moved, according to David Provost, executive vice president for finance and administration. 

Abigail Chang

“So all that [construction] is literally just to be in a position to move forward, which was also approved by the board as part of the capital project,” Provost said. 

The next steps for the new first-year dorm project include acquiring state environmental permits for new construction, which according to Provost has not yet occurred, and identifying a funding source. Provost said that there are two considerations for funding — either fundraising or borrowing debt, which will be discussed at the board level. 

The plans for the new dorm include features that Battell currently lacks such as seminar rooms, lounges and study rooms. Additionally, the building will be universally designed and accessible

Because the two biggest variables in the construction of the new dorm — funding sources and building costs — have not yet been finalized, the college has not set a start date for construction on the new freshman dorm. Provost estimates the earliest possible date for construction is next summer. 

Other spaces on campus are also undergoing accessibility renovations. Munroe and Voter halls were updated last year and last summer respectively, and Warner Hall and Dana Auditorium are currently under construction. 

Dana will be completed by the new year, in time for J-Term, with updated and fully accessible features. Warner is undergoing a complete remodel and is scheduled to be finished next summer. 

“The spirit of this strategy is constant improvement,” Provost said.  

In the next five to seven years, the college also plans to build a new student center by Proctor and a new art museum where Battell is currently located.