Related: Academic Center, Education

Launching Trinity’s Second Century


excavation 3

Bringing Back the Bulldozers!

In the first week of the Year 2010, Trinity began a process that will lead to the creation of a new academic center on campus.    We issued invitations to architectural firms to make bids on what is known as “concept design,” the first stage of a building project in which the architects develop some ideas about what the building might look like.  This moment, anticipated for quite some time, marks the true beginning of Trinity’s second century academically.  Creating a new academic center requires the engagement of everyone on campus and throughout the larger Trinity family.  This will be a very large undertaking — much larger than building the Trinity Center for Women and Girls in Sports, which was a very big project that took about ten years from the start of planning and fund raising through opening day.   At the end of this project, however, Trinity will truly have the academic facilities necessary to sustain the increasingly broad mix of undergraduate and graduate programs, students and faculty for decades to come.

Creating new buildings, and renovating our historic buildings, requires a lot of teamwork, legal and architectural expertise, zoning and regulatory approvals, and money — lots of money!  Academic buildings today can easily cost tens of millions of dollars depending upon size and contents.   Some colleges of our size who have built new science buildings, for example, spent $40 million or more on just one building.   Libraries are also very expensive.   Additionally, renovating historic spaces such as those that house our current academic facilities in Main Hall is a complicated and expensive undertaking.   Size, complexity and cost are all issues we’ll be addressing in the months to come.

What do we mean when we talk about a new academic center for Trinity?   At the most basic level, it means at least one new building for more classrooms with more modern technology, more meeting and gathering spaces, perhaps performance space and “commons” spaces where students and members of the campus community can lounge, study, grab a bite, engage in all of the myriad activities of campus life.   In today’s creative ways of envisioning learning spaces, a new classroom building might also incorporate concepts of library and laboratories in new ways, so that spaces that once were entirely separate might be adjacent.   There’s so much going on in academic architecture right now, it’s important to have open minds about the possibilities!

What’s going to happen with our existing classrooms and other spaces in Main Hall?  Eventually, we will renovate these spaces, but we have to have somewhere to go first —- “swing” space is crucial, so new spaces will most likely come first.   However, even as we plan new spaces, we’ll be working with the architects to see if we can come up with some more immediate improvements in Main Hall that can be done more quickly —- restroom improvements, and possibly a new elevator are high on our list.

What will happen with our existing Library and Science Building?  No preconceived notions, but the concept design process will help us to assess the best ways to address the obvious conditions and needs of these buildings as well.

What will all of this cost?  A lot.   More than $50 million, probably.  Possibly much more.

Where will Trinity get that kind of money?  Glad you asked!  Trinity will also be launching a new capital campaign — the Campaign for Trinity’s Second Century — to raise the significant amounts of money necessary to create the new academic complex.   This will be the biggest campaign we’ve ever had, dwarfing the $12 million Centennial Campaign.

Can we raise that much money?  You betcha!   It will take a lot of work.   And it will require a lot of love and commitment on the part of our very generous benefactors.   But I am so confident that they will respond to this project even more generously than they have to all of our previous requests.

When the Sisters of Notre Dame founded Trinity in 1897, they had a great idea, much faith, and little money.   They persisted, persuaded, and succeeded.   Trinity has flourished thanks to their vision and courage.   Today, when I walk Main’s grand corridors and contemplate the fact that their inspiration is more alive today than ever, I remind myself that if they were able to marshal the resources and sheer willpower to build Trinity, we can surely do the same to ensure a modern infrastructure for this great university for the next 100 years.

I will be providing much more on this project in the days to come.   Students, faculty, staff, alumnae will have opportunities to talk with the architects and participate in the planning process.

You can read Trinity’s Master Plan and our Historic Building Report by clicking on this link. Your comments are always welcome, just click on the link below.

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2 Responses to Launching Trinity’s Second Century

  1. Elizabeth Palmer '92 says:

    What a great time to be a part of Trinity. Watching the Trinity Center go from an artist’s rendering to the magnificent place it is today was so exciting. I cannot wait to see what our new buildings will look like and what wonderful new services and opportunities this project will bring for our students!

  2. Timothy says:

    How exciting – I’m really looking forward to this project! Good ol’ Main has done its job for over a century, but today’s students have different expectations and the content of today’s classes require infrastructure that no fin de siecle nun or architect could have imagined. A new academic center will be a tremendous boon to the entire Trinity community and a source of great pride to all of us dedicated to making it a reality.

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Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
Phone: 202.884.9050   Email: