By Maddie Conley-Online Editor
The center of campus will look a lot different when students return later this month.
With the new Kim Phipps Admissions and Welcome Center construction underway, campus will begin seeing changes in parking, pedestrian walkways and green spaces. One of the most imminent being the 50 to 70-year-old trees that came down to make space for township required parking.
“The trees being removed is extremely sad,” said Director of Sustainability Brandon Hoover. “We have a good plan ahead of us, but you can’t replace 70-year-old trees in a day.”
The college has been working with the Office of Sustainability to find ways of incorporating sustainable practices into a project that could easily prove ecologically disruptive.
With a grant from a Maryland-based nonprofit, over 100 native saplings including Maples, Oaks and Sycamores will be planted around campus, Hoover explained. Other plants such as 279 shrubs, over 2,400 groundcovers, perennials and grasses and 2,745 new bulbs will be planted as well.
“In the long run, we are gaining more trees than we are losing,” Hoover said.
However, he did mention that the old trees are able to capture more carbon and preserve the soil in a way the new ones will not be able to for a long time.
While Hoover believes the trees will be missed by students who enjoyed their shade and perfect hammock placement, senior Ivan Oon understands that as the college grows, there will have to be changes. He’s just looking forward to the trees that will grow to take their place.
In a statement from Vice President of Operations Kathie Shaffer, she explained how the removal was necessary not only to create additional parking, but to add a walking path from the High Center to Larson Student Union. The path’s main focus on being accessible to those with mobility issues.
Hoover did work with administration to preserve the trees outside of Murray Library and the large Oak near the Alumni Patio. The location of the new Welcome Center was chosen to save these trees, he explained.
The Welcome Center will be situated between Boyer and Eisenhower—a central location for visiting prospective students and their families. The building will also house offices for all of admissions, financial aid and financial services, the Registrar’s Office and the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations.
Hoffman will be torn down by October of 2020 and the ITS team and finance and procurement teams will be relocated to Old Main.
While the new building is expected to leave a carbon footprint, as any construction project would, Hoover believes it will be relatively sustainable in the long-run.
“That building will operate more sustainably than Hoffman was,” he said.
Planned into the building are motion sensor lights, occupancy sensors and more efficient HVAC systems than are used in Old Main. All of these will help the building be more efficient, Hoover said.
“It might be difficult for students to grapple with in the moment, but at the end of the day […] the green space is going to look really good,” said SGA Student Body President Tetsuo Takahara.
With the demolition of Hoffman, what is now the parking lot in front of Murray and Hostetter Chapel will be a campus green space for students to enjoy in the fall of 2020. The current parking lot will be closing this coming Monday.
Keep an eye out for a mass e-mail coming soon. For more information and updates on the project visit https://www.messiah.edu/info/23049/kim_s_phipps_admissions_and_welcome_center.