This semester, Assistant Vice President of Operations Adam Colby is working with Kliment Halsband Architects on a three-phase plan that will set the course for a several-year long endeavor to rebuild dorms, offices, labs and other buildings on campus. According to Colby, this project will examine the ways in which the land on campus is currently being used, and make a plan to expand on current buildings and potentially construct new ones.
This plan aims to improve accessibility and the long-term sustainability of the campus while preserving students’ favorite popular spots on campus like South Beach and Kappa Field.
Eckerd is currently in phase one out of the plan’s three phases. Phase one has included hiring architects to do a site study, gathering building inventory and evaluating their current state, creating diagrams and layouts and conducting interviews with students and faculty to integrate their opinions into the long-term plan.
Kliment Partner Michael Maza visited Eckerd’s campus from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 to find ways his firm could repurpose the existing space rather than disrupting the landscape by unnecessarily building new structures.
“It's about taking a look at what the college needs, everything from housing to study spaces. Are there enough classrooms, labs and offices for faculty? Are there spaces for student activities?” Maza said. “Maybe it takes a fresh set of eyes to look at all the data.”
Colby said he has been putting together groups of staff and students of various constituencies, which will continue throughout the semester.
“We’re going to start small with these [interviews]. Then we’re going to start picking out some other individuals and have a student on the steering committee as well that’s going to help think of some of these things,” Colby said.
According to Maza, community feedback has suggested that some buildings are old and have leaky roofs or not enough power outlets and there are not enough student study spaces or room for student activities.
“We’re also hearing about housing constraints and juniors and seniors having to live off campus,” Maza said.
The second phase will include data analysis and development of the planning principles. Colby hopes this will be done by May 2022.
Phase three will incorporate the findings from the first two phases to form a development plan and establish a strategic framework for the college to work from over the next several years.
“We’re looking at places where students really go to hang out and how these communal spaces interact with individuals in different areas,” Colby said.
According to Maza, in addition to preserving popular spots on campus, his firm is also aiming to improve accessibility by assessing whether the entrances to buildings are welcoming and accessible to everyone and evaluating what they can do in various buildings and dorms to make sure all students are able to obtain the resources they need.
“We’re starting to evaluate things like [whether it] makes sense to put a popular program in a building if you can’t get into the space or it doesn’t have proper toilets or ramps and the like,” Maza said.
The campus plan is also aiming to protect Eckerd’s landscape against sea level rising, heavy rain, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Architects will work with Environmental Science Associates (ESA) and nonprofit group Tampa Bay Watch (TBW) to ensure that the two projects will work in conjunction with one another to form a “resilience framework” for long-term sustainability.
“What we do will be aligned with them. So we’re not going to propose renovating a building if they tell us it’s going to flood in five years, or, conversely, we’re not going to build something in one spot if [ESA and TBW] are telling us to build it in a different spot,” Maza said.
Colby thinks the campus plan will allow the college to make better use of the natural beauty of Eckerd’s campus and guide the college as it makes necessary updates and changes over the next several years.
“Having a plan allows you to make better and more efficient decisions on where the institution needs to go and where we need to focus some of our resources to make sure that we’re accomplishing what we need to,” Colby said. “If you don’t have a plan, you’re kind of moving in multiple different directions, and while you may be moving forward, you may not be moving in the most efficient way forward.”