Pitzer Begins Construction Planning for Sustainability Conservancy Across Foothill

Architects have begun plans for constructing a permanent location for Pitzer College’s Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability, which was founded in 2012 to enhance the college's academic programming around environmental and social justice.

The Conservancy will be located on Pitzer’s property at the Robert J. Bernard Biological Field Station, north of the Claremont Colleges’ campuses.

An old infirmary at the field station will be converted into a dynamic academic and artistic space for the conservancy and the outdoor space will be utilized by the conservancy as well. The field is about a 10-minute walk from Pitzer's campus.

“My hope is that more faculty and students will be able to use the site and space and see exciting opportunities for interdisciplinary engagements with sustainability,” Sarathy said. “Getting folks familiar is the first step.”

The design team for the conservancy consists of architects Kevin Krumdieck, John R. Beck, Michelle Sullivan and Andrew Reilman. The group started its work in late August when they assessed the site for the first time.

Since then, the team has brought the site “out of the mothballs,” Krumdieck said.

The architects have begun assessing the existing space and drafting plans for the new building with the goal of meeting the conservancy’s needs while minimizing its environmental impact.

“The Conservancy will include five or more multi-use teaching spaces (inside and outside) that will provide some fantastic opportunities for Pitzer and 5C colleagues to teach in innovative ways,” Pitzer Interim Dean of Faculty Nigel Boyle said.

The design team has produced two potential plans which both include art studios, ecological science labs, multipurpose classrooms, offices, convening spaces and equipment storage.

While the constraints of the current building are challenging, the designers and the affiliates of the conservancy are aiming not to waste any resources.

“The idea is to use what the space gives us,” Krumdieck said. “Ultimately, the root goal is that our building will use the absolute minimum amount of resources that it can.”

The building’s plan centers around the utilization of pre-existing resources, such as natural light indoors and cooling from shade provided by pre-existing trees.

According to the conservancy’s website, renovations are scheduled for completion in the 2017-2018 school year.

Sarathy has been working to ensure that the conservancy addresses both student and faculty needs. She recently sent out a survey to the 5C community regarding the site and space, and her team is working on synthesizing that information.

“The most important thing to me right now, and something I am working very hard to do, is to make the process collaborative, accessible and open to all, and to share information transparently,” said Sarathy.

Sarathy hopes that the conservancy will create a bridge between the Claremont Colleges and the local community.

“Hopefully, this will encourage students to engage with issues that this community faces in order to envision and work towards a more sustainable region,” conservancy fellow Lindsay McCord PZ ‘15 said.

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