An overwhelming number of trucks and construction workers on campus signals the numerous changes Mills is undergoing this semester.
Larger projects, such as the new Natural Sciences building and the front gate, are impossible to miss, and talk of a new building for the MBA program and a revitalized Rothwell Student Center make for good Tea Shop chatter. But smaller renovations and routine maintenance are occurring as well.
History professor Bert Gordon, who currently teaches a course on the heritage and history of Mills, said “It’s great to see the college using resources to both keep up the campus and move it forward.”
Natural Sciences Building
In Karen Maggio’s office is a sampler for the Natural Sciences Building, which sits on her conference table and contains carpet possibilities and sample wall material for the classrooms, among other things, and sitting on top of it is a chunk of the special flooring. Maggio works closely with all construction and maintenance on campus in her job as Assistant Vice President of Business Affairs in Housing Management and Dining Services.
The new building, designed by Karen Fiene with Esherick Homsey Dodge and Davis Architecture, is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building which means that it meets certain standards regarding self-sustainable energy and recycled construction material. The building will hopefully open in April in time for open tours before the end of the semester, and for classes next fall. Until then, students with classes in the Psychology building suffer.
Senior Leah Albin, who spends much time in that building, said, “There have been times where I could not hear parts of my professor’s lecture because noise from the construction has been so loud.”
Front Gate Resurfacing
The front gate marks the entrance to the “new” side of campus-that is, the half of campus developed by Aurelia Reinhardt rather than Susan Mills. Kapiolani Road and the line of eucalyptus trees along it are the dividing line between the two.
Built in 1926, Maggio said the gate has not seen improvements since its creation.”
Work on the gate started over Winter Break and is scheduled to finish in February. The resurfacing process entails cleaning the stone and then re-plastering it. A new sign will be put up to better announce the college, but Gordon said that the “sense of arrival” on campus, something Mills lacks with buildings facing every direction, isn’t a matter of labeling.
In the Works
New work then begins in May on Phase Two of the Music Building renovation.
Improved drainage around the building during the rainy season is in progress as well as the installation of an elevator for better disability access. The concert hall and bathrooms will also be redone at this time.
The new MBA building and an expanded student center will be focused on after the February board meetings.
A prime spot for the MBA building is the meadow across from Cowell and next to Olney at the intersection of Richards and Kapiolani Roads. The improved student center would remain at Rothwell and would be a place to eat, a post office/ mail and copy room and an expanded bookstore.
A committee of administration, faculty and students is being assembled to discuss ideas on the matter. “It’s key that students are involved from the beginning,” Maggio said.
Work on the new Courtyard Townhouses of Danforth, Stephenson and Springs is wrapping up. Both Danforth and Stephenson house residences and the courtyard itself are already finished. Springs is in the final stages as workers add a second laundry room.
All three will be open for housing in the Fall.
“I moved into a construction zone without warning, went without a laundry facility for half a semester, and was subjected to noise and dust pollution for weeks,” said Albin, a Danforth resident last semester.
The buildings were designed by architect Michael Pyatok and are named for Mills alumnae. The main lobby area of each will house artwork by Mills alumnae and a painting by Ruth Sears is in the Danforth lobby. Sears, an administrative assistant at Mills, has the task of finding artwork for the other two buildings.
The stairs behind Reinhardt Hall, a common shortcut up the hill to Founders, are finally receiving attention, and renovations will finish in the Ege Hall bathrooms.
Repair to the boiler in Carnegie and Sage Halls were recently completed. The college tries to schedule the messiest maintenance work for school breaks, according to Maggio, but sometimes it carries through the semester.