Stokes Hall Opens After Years In The Works
Newest Academic Building Represents The University’s Investment in the Liberal Arts
Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 25, 2013 14:01
“I think Stokes opens up rich possibilities for integration, bringing departments together while providing new spaces for rich student-faculty interaction,” Quigley said. “I especially like the way it connects the underclassmen on Upper Campus to the heart of the university.”
The location of Stokes and the appropriation of BC’s largest green space on Middle Campus, the former “Dustbowl,” garnered a significant amount of controversy when construction began. From a design standpoint, however, Keating said that the location made perfect sense. “The feeling was, it had to be on Middle Campus,” Keating said. “That’s where the academic core of the campus was, and the building was going to be the vehicle for much of the core curriculum.”
After determining a location, the University decided to construct Stokes so as to reflect the architectural heritage of BC. The local architectural firm of Tsoi/Kobus & Associates was hired to design Stokes Hall in keeping with the Gothic design of BC’s original buildings. A programming committee from A&S, including Quigley and his department chairs, consulted with the architects to discuss the placement of departments within the building, according to Keating. Stokes was intended in part to bring all the humanities departments from their separate locations in Carney Hall and Maloney Hall into one location. “We decided that we wanted to create this single building for humanities, and to replace the classrooms in Carney—Carney was considered in tough shape, it really needed significant repair—and our classroom configuration wasn’t optimal,” Keating said. “So we needed a new building to be able to provide more smaller classrooms, and a different variety of classrooms than what Carney offered.
“You don’t build buildings quite like this very often,” Keating said. “You don’t have the opportunity in universities to build such a significant building. But, you know, it’s similar to Bapst or Gasson or Fulton or Devlin, back in its day.
“It’s a high-quality building, there is no question,” he said. “You walk into that building—the materials, the way it’s laid out, the feel of the building—this is a first-class building. That says something about the University’s commitment to the humanities, to undergraduate education, to the student experience.”
As faculty members begin to utilize the new classrooms in Stokes, the commitment to humanities has moved away from the symbolic to the tangible. Responding to a question about investing in humanities rather than the typically higher-demand fields of science, technology, math and engineering (STEM), Keating noted that there was a greater immediate need for a humanities building, considering the state of Carney. “The facilities at Higgins and Merkert were newer and had newer investments,” he said. While a plan for an integrated science building is under way, Keating said that the space available on Middle Campus lent itself to a humanities building. “The science building is a little more complicated in that it requires Nursing to be relocated first. So that domino makes a new science building a little more difficult, and, in fact, this location was ideal for the humanities. This would not have been an ideal location for the sciences—the sciences need to be near Merkert and Higgins.”
Logistics aside, Quigley stressed the importance of teaching the liberal arts at BC. “I’m supportive of the balanced and thoughtful approach that the university’s leadership has taken in recent years, hiring faculty across the humanities and the natural sciences,” he said. “To become the kind of university we’re called to be, it’s imperative that we commit to excellence across the liberal arts. As someone who sees teaching as central to the university, this investment in high-quality teaching spaces is worth celebrating.”