Trustees Present Commons Plan; Rebuild Depends On $8m Donation

The Board of Trustees recently approved a plan for the renovation of Commons. This plan can go in one of two directions, depending on whether or not the Academy receives an $8 million donation. The Board of Trustees approved Plan C, the large expansion option, contingent upon the receipt of the $8 million gift. This option entails the construction of an east pavilion and a south addition to the rear of Commons. The east addition would be capable of seating 450 people, the number of students and faculty at the Senior-Faculty dinner held each May. Currently, no single dining hall can accommodate this number of people. In Plan C, the new additions, as well as the Ryley Room, the serveries, the meeting rooms, and the historic dining halls would all be equipped with air conditioning. This plan will require the relocation of the Commons playground and the parking lot between Paul Revere dormitory and the Gelb Science Center. However, if the $8 million donation is not raised by an as yet undetermined date, then plan B will go into action. “It all depends on the generosity of our alumni,” said Director of Facilities Michael Williams. Plan B is a less expensive, smaller-scale renovation. Under this plan, only the 320-seat east pavilion would be constructed, while only the new additions and the Ryley Room would be equipped with air conditioning. The parking lot between Gelb and Paul Revere and the Newton-Hinman House would not be relocated. However, the playground would be rebuilt elsewhere. Both plans ensure improved food quality, serveries, and kitchens. The two plans both include construction of a sunken terrace adjacent to the Ryley Room at basement level, the addition of event and dance space, more illumination by sunlight, and the enlargement of the facility as a whole. As of now, the starting date for the renovation has not been set. “We would like to have it done soon,” Mr. Williams said. “We would like to start in the next two years. From the time that we start construction, it will take a minimum of three years to complete.” As of now, no one is sure what Commons will look like after the renovations. “No architect has been selected,” said Mr. Williams. “Once a plan is selected, plans will be submitted to the Board of Trustees for approval.” If Plan B is chosen, dining would continue in Commons during construction, but only one side of Commons would be open at a time while the other dining halls are being renovated. “This will create issues with time, capacity, and the atmosphere,” said Mr. Williams. If Plan C is put into effect, dining would be relocated to the athletic cage. Plan C would displace the athletic teams that practice in the Cage, as well as some community service projects that make use of the venue. “Students would have to adjust to ambiance changes,” Mr. Williams said. “I think [Plan C] would be really bad, because the Cage is farther away than Commons is,” said Megumi Ishizuka ’08. “They use the Cage for athletics, and I am just wondering how we can use the Cage for both eating and athletic programs.” “The addition to Ryley Room seems really great initially,” said Cecelia Worthington ’08. “It would depend on a few things: where the money is going to come from, if we have to end up eating in the cage, and if we will ever end up getting to use renovated Ryley Room.”