HARTFORD, CT, June 29, 2012 – An area of campus that has long been in need of a sprucing up is getting that and more. The Mather Quadrangle, the most heavily trafficked part of Trinity’s 100-acre campus, has been completely redesigned, and its spiffy new look will be unveiled at the start of the 2012-13 academic year.
Heavy equipment was moved onto the site virtually as the last of the diplomas were being handed out at the College’s May 20 Commencement. A large swath of the campus was almost immediately cordoned off. Access has been greatly limited so that the work can be done without interruption.
As of now, “We are right on schedule and right on budget,” said Tom Fusciello, Trinity’s director of construction, design and capital projects.
The reconfigured quad wouldn’t have been possible without a generous donation from John Gates, Jr. ’76, P’13, and a member of the Board of Trustees. Upon completion, the area will be renamed the Gates Quad.
Mather Hall, the Clement Chemistry Building, the Raether Library, the Austin Arts Center, Hallden and McCook Halls and Jones Dormitory all ring the area. The dining hall in Mather is closed but the building, which houses the post office, can be entered from Summit Street. The main entrance to the library is open and can be accessed from the Funston Courtyard or the road between the library and the Austin Arts Center. The entrance to the arts building is on the north side of the building.
These may seem like major inconveniences but the end product will be well worth the walk around the fenced-off section. Indeed, the Mather Quad will be a major showcase, much in the same way as the Main Quadrangle is in front of the Long Walk.
“The redevelopment of Gates Quadrangle will transform the space from an underutilized green space to an inviting, timeless landscape with sculptural mounded lawn areas surrounded by pedestrian walkways connecting the quadrangle to the rest of the campus,” said Katie Martin, a registered landscape architect with Chicago-based Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects.
To be sure, the $2.65 million project, undertaken by Consigli Construction Co., Inc. of Hartford, will result in a dramatic transformation. The quad will be more inviting, aesthetically pleasing and more functional. The paving stones in the sidewalks, all 70,167 of them, will match those in the Long Walk pathways, creating a unifying effect.
There will also be five large mounded areas of lawn of various size and grade. Some of the existing trees will remain, but among the trees that will be added are Common Alder, White Pine, American Yellowwood, Royal Star Magnolia, Kwanzan Cherry, Tri-Color Beech, Sugar Maple, Serviceberry and Skyline Honey Locust.
Improvements will also be made to the Mather Cave Patio and the entry to the Austin Arts Center. At the Cave, the walls separating the patio from the rest of the quad will be removed and the patio will be converted to a more rounded shape, surrounded by a sloped lawn that will serve as an informal amphitheater.
The stairs leading to the entry of the Austin Arts Center will be removed and a plaza will be created. The mounded lawn areas around the plaza will also be used as performance space.
But that’s not all. The south side of Mather Hall will take on a different look with the removal of the parking area, which will be replaced by a drop-off loop. The asphalt walkway that forms the entry to the quad from Summit Street will be replaced with pavers.
And new energy-efficient LED lighting will illuminate the paths and other areas, helping to improve security.
Fusciello said the work is progressing on schedule and according to plan. Among the first tasks to be completed was the demolition of existing facilities, and digging the trenches for the light poles. The pavers will arrive shortly as will the light pole bases. Dirt is being brought in to facilitate the grading and concrete will be poured. At some point in the next month, the light poles will be installed. The trees are on order, and their planting will mark the end of the project. A formal dedication will follow.
In sum, said Martin, “the new Gates Quadrangle will be an elegant space that will help bring the campus together by simplifying the pedestrian walkways and creating a variety of spaces for students and faculty to enjoy.”