Relocating PCAC, renovating Hamilton-Smith discussed at forum

By Adam J. Babinat
On April 20, 2012


People were being turned away before they were eventually allowed to enter New Hampshire Hall on Tuesday afternoon, as hundreds were looking to attend a forum on the recent updates to the university's Campus Master Plan. DouglasBencks, university architect and director of campus planning, led the forum.

At the forum, Bencks expressed the university's focus on advancing UNH as a major state university, while simultaneously maintaining the feel of a small New England college. Some of the more prominent ideas the university is looking at in order to achieve this goal is to relocate the Paul Creative Arts Center in order to bring it closer to the community; move the law school - which is currently based in Concord, N.H. - onto the Durham campus; renovate Hamilton-Smith Hall; and expand the Hamel Recreation Center.

According to Bencks, a number of locations have been looked at throughout the years for the relocation of a center for the arts. At one point, the list of locations was up to twelve, which included the locations of Hamilton-Smith Hall and evenTheBagelry of Durham.

Ideas have changed, though, and as of the forum, the current plan is to construct a new center for the arts where C Lot and the Lower Quad are currently located. This new facility would potentially include a performance hall, white box theater, museum gallery, and potentially rooms for art students to reside in.

General response by those in attendance to the forum was positive in regard to the selected destination for a future center for the arts.

Bringing UNH School of Law to Durham was also briefly discussed during the forum. This would potentially include an expansion of Nesmith Hall, which would be the location where the law school would be housed if it were to move from Concord.

Hamilton-Smith's renovation was also discussed, with a new addition to the back of the building being proposed. This addition would include a rear entrance to the building - which would still house the English and philosophy departments - and would help toward making the rest of the building handicap accessible.

Plans for Hamel Recreation Center's possible expansion were also considered. One of the key components that was raised about the expansion of the facility was how expansion would reduce the size of the outdoor pool located to the east of the building.

This detail resonated with citizens of the town of Durham, but Bencks and those facilitating the forum made it clear that they are aware of the pool's importance to the community.

One of the final noteworthy details was in regard to housing, as the university is looking to expand the amount of housing for both undergraduate and graduate students. The changes being proposed would be to remove current family housing and the mini dorms in favor of additional SERC-likebuildings, completely rebuilding Babcock Hall, and adding new family housing across the river to the south of campus, as well as directly between theWhittemore Center and the Woodside Apartments.

By Adam J.

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