As a Trinity College undergraduate in the 1970s, John Gates, Jr. ’76, P’13 recognized the unlocked potential of the Mather quadrangle. “When I was a student, it was clear that this was one of the most heavily trafficked and lively areas of campus, but it was not aesthetically pleasing.”
L-R: SGA President Dobromir Trifonov '13, President James F. Jones, Jr., John Gates '76, P'13, Weezie Gates P'13, and Paul E. Raether '68, P'93, '96, '01, Chairman of the Trinity College Board of Trustees. (Photo: Nick Lacy)
On November 2, during Homecoming Weekend, Gates, along with other members of the Trinity community, celebrated the dedication of a redesigned and much more inviting space, renamed Gates Quadrangle in recognition of the lead gift for the project from John and Weezie Gates.
The buildings that ring Gates Quad, at the heart of the College’s 100-acre campus, include Mather Hall, the Clement Chemistry Building, the Raether Library and Information Technology Center, the Austin Arts Center, Hallden and McCook Halls, and Jones Residence Hall.
At the dedication ceremony, President James F. Jones, Jr. said, “We are an institution steeped in the classical tradition, while at the same time, focused on the future. This quadrangle represents that duality, linking the classical collegiate architecture of the Long Walk Quad to our north with the modern buildings of the math and sciences quad to the south. The buildings that surround us are home to such diverse—yet intersecting—departments as Fine Arts, Chemistry, Philosophy, and Physics. This quadrangle is the place where our students, faculty, and staff literally cross paths.”
The design for the $2.65 million project was by Chicago-based Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects. The renovated quadrangle was completed in three months, transforming what had been a utilitarian, steeply graded crossroads into an elegant open space featuring sculptural mounded lawn areas surrounded by pedestrian walkways. The construction team from Kirchhoff-Consigli began construction work in late May, immediately after Trinity’s Commencement, and finished installing the last of more than 70,000 pavers just before the start of the fall semester.
The new quad design includes the transformation of the Mather Cave Patio into an informal amphitheater—walls that separated the patio from the rest of the quadrangle were removed to open up views, and it was converted to a more rounded shape, surrounded by a sloped lawn. The south side of Mather Hall took on a new look as well. Planted areas and improved paving have replaced asphalt to create a welcoming entry into the quad from Summit Street, including a new drop-off loop. Most of the quad’s trees have been preserved and some have been added at the edges to help frame the quad and building entries. New energy-efficient LED lighting illuminates paths and surrounding areas, helping improve security and increase hours of use.
When asked about the decision to support this project, Gates said, “Trinity is an exceptional college, in an urban environment, producing great leaders for the future. In my view, the impact per dollar—what I consider the demonstrable payoff—is even greater than my gift to Trinity.” Gates noted, “This was an opportunity to change a part of campus quickly and to have a big impact on the feel of the campus.”
Gates, who is chairman of the Chicago Regional Transportation Authority, the second largest public transportation system in North America, is a Trinity parent, Trustee, and a member of the Trustees’ Facilities Committee.
Other leadership donors who were recognized for helping make the Gates Quad project possible through their contributions were Martha Lyn Dippell and Daniel L. Korengold ’73, P’09, ’12, ’14; Jennifer B. and Jeffrey E. Kelter ’76; Thomas L. Safran ’67; Belinda and Luther L. Terry ’67; and Elizabeth F. and W. James Tozer ’63, P’89, ’90. Chairman of the Board Paul E. Raether ’68, P’93, ’96, ’01 made special acknowledgement of the Facilities Committee of the Board—especially the leadership of Chair Luke Terry and member Karen Kelsey Thomas ’78, P’12, whose ardent support and diligent work contributed greatly to the success of the project.