Knowledge and Wellness Commons

Dylan Eli and Adam Forrest

Last semester, Hampshire received a 1.2 million dollar grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to “fund implementation of a Learning Commons in the library,” or what is now the Knowledge Commons. A budget was submitted with the proposal titled “Learning Commons 3.0”.

In an address from June 2015, President Lash called the Knowledge and Wellness Commons project a “renovation and repurposing of all the spaces in the library building” combined with a new “sustainably renovated RCC” in an attempt to centralize campus resources. This idea is actually older than Hampshire, dating back to The Making of a College (chp.7 – it’s a good read).

Library director Jennifer Gunter King believes we were awarded the grant because of “Hampshire’s unique approach to bringing resources together.” And at its core, that’s what the “Commons” project is all about: centralizing resources.

This week, architects from the design firm Bruner/Cott will host two “Creative Town Halls” in the FPH Faculty Lounge, to discuss plans for the Knowledge Commons, which will be in what is currently the RCC and library. Both meetings are open to staff, faculty, and most importantly YOU and your friends!  Why make these a priority when you’re already overcommitted and drowning in chapters of Das Kapital? This may be the only chance you’ll have to share your ideas in this comprehensive design process. The Bruner/Cott boys say that they intend to listen and incorporate the community’s thoughts into their plan: their website boasts of how appreciative clients have been of their “informed design” and “consideration of community.”

We’re counting on the attendance of Hampshire Student Union (HSU) reps, who should keep you in the loop throughout the semester with updates. They meet Mondays at 7:00pm in the APL. A few architecture/design students have already met with Bruner/Cott, but if you or your classmates care about learning more– or if this is the first you’ve heard about this– spread the word and show up. Headway has been made, but the library and project committees are waiting for students (especially those who study sociology or spatial theory) to join the conversation.

“It would be wonderful to have active student engagement in creating a library supportive and responsive to Hampshire students in need,” Jennifer told us.  Students “will be critical in the spending of these funds… by participating in the development and delivery of academic support in the Commons.”

I smell a call to action, folks. Join the Howler staff on Tues. Feb. 9th to make suggestions (perhaps some ADA compliance? Another cash register at the Bridge? A better location for Health Services?) and ask your questions. We all deserve to hear the answers.


The town halls will be on Tuesday, Feb. 9th from 12pm – 2pm AND from 5pm – 7pm

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