The Capital Design Advisory (CDA) Committee held an open house on Aug. 13th and a public meeting on Aug. 19th, to discuss the replacement of Anne Arundel Hall and the new Maryland Heritage Interpretive Center.
The meetings are intended to inform the community of the relationship between the College and Historic St. Mary’s City (HSMC) and how the prospective site plans will better serve the needs of both institutions. Additionally, the presentations describe how the site plans will foster joint educational programs and promote additional interaction as envisioned by the 1997 State legislation that formally affiliated the College and HSMC. “The buildings are a physical representation of the affiliation,” said Dr. Michael J. G. Cain, Director of the Center for the Study of Democracy.
According to the current site plan, the Anne Arundel replacement will house archaeological curation facilities for Historic St. Mary’s City and space for the Anthropology Department, International Languages and Cultures Department, the Museum Studies Program, the Center for the Study of Democracy and the Blackistone Room.
HSMC’s new interpretive center will replace the visitor’s center that is currently located off Rosecroft Road. It will include a theatre, permanent exhibit gallery and temporary exhibit space.
The new construction is intended to alleviate major challenges facing both HSMC and the College. Renewal of accreditation at HSMC is contingent upon construction of new facilities that meet the standards for archaeology and museum curation. In addition, storage is becoming a problem with an archive of five million artifacts.
The construction will also offer space to accommodate the College’s growing academic needs. The Museum Studies program already includes twenty-four students and is expected to grow with the newly established Martin E. Sullivan Scholars program. “Bringing together museum functions and academic functions will provide our students with experiences in and outside the classroom on a much more regular basis than is now the case,” said Anthropology Chair Julie King.
A major discussion that took place at the Aug. 19 meeting included the pros and cons of tearing down Anne Arundel Hall, built in 1950, versus renovating it. According to Chip Jackson, Associate Vice President of Planning and Facilities, the College had preferred keeping Anne Arundel from a historical and a sustainability standpoint. However, two studies concluded that 85-90 percent of the materials would need replacing and the building would not be energy efficient.
According to Faden, the feedback has been mostly positive. “Once they had an opportunity to learn about the careful planning for the siting of the project and the attention taken to protect the cultural resources, most members of the community favored the plan,” she said.
However, a few community members expressed dissatisfaction with the process. According to Jackson, they felt that periodic public meetings were not sufficient and that the public should be allowed input at every level of the decision making process. However, Jackson felt that was “unrealistic.”
The Committee will continue to work on the proposal with the campus community and is currently coordinating with the SGA and Faculty Senate on how to get as many people involved in the process. “Student engagement is very important to us, and we welcome students’ interest as we go through this planning process,” Jackson said.