Temporary Garden Opens on Former Site of Pitzer’s Holden Hall

Pitzer College officially opened the Holden Garden on Dec. 1. The garden, under construction since the start of the school year, replaced Holden Hall, which was torn down this summer.

The destruction of Holden Hall, one of Pitzer’s oldest residential buildings, drew criticism from many Pitzer students, but Vice President for Student Affairs Brian Carlisle believes the decision was necessary. 

“Holden Hall was in a significant state of disrepair, and in order to make it a current residential environment, it would require a significant investment,” Carlisle said. “It didn’t have classrooms, it didn’t have office space, and it was not energy-efficient. There was no central air—and lead and asbestos in the building.”

According to Carlisle, the garden is intended as a multi-use space for students, faculty and staff members. Carlisle said the northern portion of the garden, which was purposefully designed without plants or trees, will be used for performance and visual art approved by Pitzer’s Aesthetics Committee. Two walls from the former Holden Hall were also left standing, and Pitzer students are encouraged to use these walls as a canvas for murals. 

Some students share in Carlisle’s enthusiasm for the garden placeholder. 

“It is so nice to have the fence down,” Anisha Loeb PZ ’18 said. “And the garden is so aesthetically pleasing.” 

Kat Harhai PZ ’18 has already begun to enjoy the space. 

“I took a nice walk through the garden today,” Harhai said. “It was wonderful.”

However, not all students are satisfied with the temporary fixture. 

Belmont Pinger PZ ’17, who was part of the garden planning committee last year, critiqued the garden’s design. 

While the garden is “pretty open like many other places at Pitzer,” he wrote, he believes it has been “manicured to the point of sterility.” 

“I tried to convince them to leave rubble so people knew what had been there,” he added. “I believe rubble would have given the Pitzer community a space to build upon from the ‘ashes of holden.'”

The garden is not permanent. A new residential construction plan, Phase III of Pitzer’s three-part Residential Life Project, is set to be complete in approximately seven years.

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