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Building into the next generation

You may have seen it—or potentially heard it during your lectures—but the university is making some changes to campus. Some of the updates are long overdue and we are excited to see the final projects and how they will propel the university in the future. The university has never been known for its cohesive architectural style. While the building’s architectural designs may be mismatched and uncoordinated, they tell a story about the university and how it has grown since its inception. The various styles are indicative of the decades when they were made, and thus show a glimpse of the university from years past. It is wonderful to see these points in time, though there comes a point when it is no longer functional or safe to keep them in their original condition. By updating these buildings, we can both honor the history of the university while also looking to expand in its future. The university is growing and changing and it only seems right for our infrastructure to change to match this new age. Updates are being made all throughout campus: Construction is underway in Brown Social Science Center and outside Mandel Center for the Humanities to update plumbing systems, giving them a much-needed overhaul. Gosman Athletics Center and Hassenfeld Conference Center both have new lounge areas for students to more easily study in. The lounge area for student-athletes is a great space to do work between practice and game times and helps give students a space to truly be students and athletes. Renovations were also made to some bathrooms and kitchens in the upper Foster Mods residence halls, as well as to the Stein. While the changes made to Mods were less drastic and cosmetic, the new stoves and kitchen tiles make the spaces feel newer. While only half of Mods has received the updates to the kitchens and bathrooms, the changes make a big difference in the space and make the dorms feel less dated. These changes, both large and small, show progress, both in increased safety for university staff, faculty and students, but also in providing a more comfortable and accessible space for all university community members. The updates to the buildings do not go unnoticed or unappreciated by students on campus. The updates are nice and refreshing by all accounts. It also shows how the university is taking initiative after concerns from community members about the conditions of the buildings. The renovations to Brown were undoubtedly necessary after reports from professors of leaking offices when it rained and contamination in the drinking water from the lead pipes. Known as one of the older buildings on campus, Brown was undeniably in need of renovation. There is a long history to the architecture on campus. Prior to opening in 1946, the grounds of Brandeis were home to Middlesex Community College. The university inherited many of the Middlesex buildings including Smith Hall, Science Hall (also known as Ford Hall), a greenhouse, a wishing well and a grape arbor. The only inherited building still on campus from Middlesex is Usen Castle—formerly known as Smith Castle. Though the university began work on the castle in 2017, removing a majority of the structure left approximately 30% still intact on campus today. The demolition took place in the summer of 2017, with part of the building being preserved after community members fought to preserve some of the beloved building. According to a previous Hoot article, the university decided to demolish part of the castle due to the expense required to renovate it, and the fact that renovations would result in fewer beds than building a new residence hall—Skyline, which began to house students beginning in 2019. While it is sad to let some of our histories go, like never knowing the library was a horse stable in another life, it is exciting to watch the future being built. One day these buildings will be where students go to study or cry after they failed that midterm. They will become part of someone’s Brandeis story and we cannot wait to see how the university continues to transform.

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