Clark University today opened the Center for Media Arts, Computing, and Design, the planned home for the Becker School of Design and Technologythe Computer Science departmentand programs within the Department of Visual and Performing Arts.
President David B. Fithian ’87 greeted a crowd of faculty, staff, students, administrators and local officials who gathered under a tent near the outskirts of the Woodland Street site where digs are currently in progress. He emphasized that the academic activities taking place in the new building will lead to connections and collaborations across multiple disciplines.
“When we think of our facilities, and especially our new buildings, we don’t just think of activity containers, but rather purpose-built spaces that encourage collaboration, convening, cooperation, and even collision – that is, the chance encounters of people from different disciplines, departments and different ways of thinking,” Fithian said.
“The building that will soon emerge from the ground behind me will have many of these types of spaces. It will bring together different departments and programs with obvious synergies but also potential for new creative impulses and chemistry.
The four-story, 70,000-square-foot building, slated to open in fall 2023, will be located just southeast of the Strassler Centerbetween Woodland and Hawthorne streets, and its main entrance will face the Goddard Library.
Betsy Huang, associate provost and dean of the college, noted that “to truly practice and embody interdisciplinarity, we must not only evolve our curriculum, but also reconfigure the spaces in which we do this work. The interdisciplinary ideals and core values of our liberal education are embedded in this building and the structural DNA of this center.
“We all know the sparks that happen when we put people of great creativity, intelligence and decency in the same space, working side by side, learning from each other, building trust and community, breathing the same air and feeling the life of the different and the new.
Ayers Saint Gross, an internationally acclaimed employee-owned design firm, leads the design process and facilitated extensive engagement with Clark faculty, students and staff to envision the building and the functionality of the space that ‘it contains. The company is also a partner with Clark on the Broad Campus Design Initiative, which offers a strategic plan to reimagine the university’s buildings and grounds. The construction works are carried out by Shawmut Design and Construction.
“More than a wonderful new addition to our campus, this project symbolizes a new philosophy and a new era for Clark to not only envision what is possible, but to make it a reality,” said Ross Gillman ’81, President of the Board of Trustees. “This is the first of what I know to be many changes to Clark during David’s tenure.”
The building will include a multi-story classroom, media gallery, robotics lab, data science lab, teaching and collaboration spaces, and a video game library for searching interactive media and playing games. games, among other features.
Wednesday D’Angelo ’22, a student at the Becker School of Design & Technology, and Dilasha Shrestha ’22, a computing major, spoke of their excitement for Clark’s new space.
“I think this new building will attract students from across the University to take classes and collaborate on different projects and ideas,” Shrestha said.
The building will be laid out in two “wings”, clad in a grid of metal panels. The layout of the building and grounds will form a new academic quadrangle, adding additional green space to the campus. Floor-to-ceiling windows will overlook the new landscaping.
The University continues LEED Gold certification for “green” construction and operation. The building will be Clark’s first to use geothermal energy as its primary source of heating and cooling. According to President Fithian, it will also contain 100% toilets for all genders and will meet or exceed workforce and contractor diversity goals.
The project represents not only an investment in students, faculty and staff, he said, but also in the community.
“[The Center] enhances Clark’s ability to attract and retain more talented people who will contribute to our local economy and who may well stay in Worcester after their time with Clark,” he said.
Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty and City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. praised Clark for his continued commitment to the city and his inspired partnership with the Main South neighborhood.
“Clark University has really set the tone for colleges and universities across the United States in terms of partnering with their host community,” Augustus said. “They do genuine work with their host community, not just one-off projects, but things that are integral to their identity as a university, the culture on campus, in the classroom and in the community.”
Learn more on Clark University’s capital projects.