HSSC construction changing the landscape of Grinnell College campus

Mar. 26, 2018 — No matter where they are in the world, Grinnell College students, alumni, faculty and staff can see daily progress being made on the Humanities and Social Studies Center (HSSC).

Picture of the new Humanities and Social Studies Center taken from the construction crane on February 9, 2018.
Image taken from the construction crane of the new HSSC on Feb. 9, 2018. The camera is facing north. You can see the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center in the upper right.

Alumni outside of the Grinnell area can follow along with the construction of the HSSC by visiting construction.grinnell.edu. Site visitors can see a real-time look at the work being done by clicking on “Watch the Transformation.” The site also has weekly building updates and more information about the HSSC and other campus construction projects.

“One of the benefits of having a large-scale construction project smack in the middle of campus is the excitement of seeing the center take shape right in front of you,” said Adam Laug, Grinnell College development director. “It’s especially exciting for our donors and alumni who visit campus and get to witness the transformation. But even if you don’t have the opportunity to visit, the webcam provides an easy way to see the project evolve.”

The new home for humanities and social studies will be three stories and 196,600 gross square feet. The project, which got under way in January 2017, starts with construction of two new North and South pavilions and a central three-story atrium followed by renovations and preservation of Alumni Recitation Hall (ARH) and Carnegie Hall. Most sections of ARH and Carnegie remain open during construction.

Interior of the new Humanities and Social Studies Center under construction taken on February 9, 2018.
Interior construction continues on the first floor of the North Pavilion of the HSSC project. Taken Feb. 9, 2018.

Construction on HSSC is on schedule, and the North and South pavilions should be ready to use beginning in January 2019, said Jim Swartz, Dack Professor of Chemistry and co-chair of the HSSC Project Leadership Team. The ARH and Carnegie renovations are expected to be complete in the summer of 2020.

The South Pavilion is enclosed with the exterior framing, insulation, and windows in place. The interior walls have been framed and the electrical conduit and plumbing is being installed. Sheet rocking of the walls has begun. On the exterior, the brick work and other masonry is being installed and the copper metal panel installation will begin in the spring. The exterior enclosure of the North Pavilion is nearly complete but some window installation is still in progress. Landscaping work will begin in April.

When the construction is completed, the HSSC will be the new home to the Institute for Global Engagement, the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment; the Data Analysis and Social Inquiry Lab (DASIL), as well as a redesigned auditorium and a large multipurpose room.

Academic commons, student research rooms, team rooms, and a quiet reading room will support the different kinds of scholarly and creative work that faculty and students are undertaking.

“A lot of it is about creating interdisciplinary meetings,” said Erik Simpson, Samuel R. and Marie-Louise Rosenthal Professor of Humanities and co-chair of the HSSC Project Leadership Team. “A lot of faculty offices and classrooms are being brought together. People doing different kinds of work can run into one another. That’s going to be real and helpful. We are creating a different set of ways that we are connecting to each other, especially across disciplinary lines.”

Since coffee and collaboration often go hand in hand, a coffee bar will be open in the atrium.

“I think students will carve out places of their own in HSSC,” Simpson said. “We are creating a building that facilitates learning.”

The HSSC design reimagines what an academic building should be in the 21st century while retaining and celebrating the heritage of ARH and Carnegie.

“We think the HSSC could become a national model and further spotlight the academic excellence of Grinnell College,” Simpson said. “Both ARH and Carnegie will look at they always have but with more architectural integrity and a careful preservation and facelift.”

- by Jeremy Shapiro

For your information:

HSSC interior and exterior investment opportunities are available at various gift levels. To learn more, contact Susan Kriegel, at 866-850-1846 or kriegels@grinnell.edu.