Pitzer Deliberates on Holden Hall Land Use

As the next step in Pitzer College President Laura Skandera Trombley’s three-phase construction and renovation plan for Pitzer’s campus, the college is preparing to tear down Holden
Hall this summer. The impending demolition has prompted discussion among Pitzer students, faculty members, and administrators about what to do with the soon-to-be-empty plot. 

According to Vice President for Student Affairs Brian Carlisle, the college plans to replace Holden with a new building. 

“Constructing a new LEED-certified [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified] building will support Pitzer’s core values, allow for a mixed use facility, and assist us in serving as good stewards of our financial resources,” Carlisle wrote in an email to TSL.

The new building that would replace Holden, however, will not be constructed for as long as seven years after the demolition of the current building is completed. Although there are no official plans, Carlisle wrote that the administration would like to include student voices in the process of planning some sort of garden or landscape for the temporary space in the interim. 

“[We] will work with
students appointed by the Student Senate to design a temporary landscape plan
for the Holden footprint,” Carlisle wrote.

Some students, though, said that erecting another building would not be the most effective use of the land
as part of a long-term plan.

“The Holden plot would be
a great place to have a permanent farm where students could grow food to be
used in the dining hall,” Gil Levy PZ ’17 said. “That would be the most
environmentally sustainable and educationally sound option.”

Pinger PZ ’17 created an online petition several weeks ago, which has gathered about
150 electronic signatures in support of the idea.

“We propose that a
moratorium be placed on the current plans for [Trombley’s] Phase 3 and at least
100,000 dollars of those funds be allocated to the construction of a productive,
sustainable farm in the space Holden currently occupies,” the petition reads.

Art professor Timothy Berg’s Special Topics in Art class hosted an art and ecology mixer Feb. 28 at the
Grove House, where attendees discussed what to do with the Holden
plot and other campus landscapes. Pitzer Arboretum Manager Joe Clements, who
attended the event, offered students advice on what he thought would work best
in the space.

“We really want to grow
plants that are sustainable here at Pitzer,” Clements said. “With a location like Claremont, that probably means more succulents and
other plants that thrive in a Mediterranean climate.”

Carlisle wrote that the administration will design and implement a reasonable plan for the land with student concerns in mind. 

“The college will attempt
to find a balance between the need to have a sustainable landscape plan with
campus aesthetics and budget,” he wrote.

Holden Hall, which was
constructed in 1965, is nearly as old as Pitzer itself, and served for a long time as a residence hall for students. For the past two academic years,
however, the building has been used both as a temporary storage facility and as office spaces for the Pitzer Student Senate and the Office of
Student Affairs. It is also serving as a temporary home for Pitzer’s
Green Bike Program during the renovation of the Gold Student Center. 

According to Carlisle, the
demolition of Holden is expected to take about two
months. The college tentatively plans
to begin the process on June 1 and finish by the time students
begin returning to school in mid-August.

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