Clark University spruces up Alden Quad

DSC_0091This past summer, the Clark University Physical Plant team spearheaded a significant renovation of the Alden Quadrangle, the green space on campus that is surrounded by two residence halls and the LEEP Center.

The project was prompted by an urgent need to replace and make more efficient an aging pipe system, as well as to take a relatively unused green space and make it more attractive, useful and accessible to the Clark community.

“Anytime we do a project such as this we try to look at the area … and make improvements where we can. In addition to the energy savings, we also created a handicap accessible walkway through the quad,” said Physical Plant Director Michael Dawley.

Enjoying the Alden Quad reception are (top row, from left) Rachel Hedgepath and Nina Walsh, and (bottom row, from left) Hannah Fox, Zoe Fishman and Sia Higa (all class of 2017) Enjoying the Alden Quad reception are (top row, from left) Rachel Hedgepath and Nina Walsh, and (bottom row, from left) Hannah Fox, Zoe Fishman and Sia Higa (all class of 2017)

According to Lea Ann O’Neill, senior project manager, the Alden Quad’s steep elevation presented unique challenges.

“A ‘plateau’ area had to be made at the top, toward Dana Hall and Hughes Hall,” she said.  “We also felt the shading provided by the trees would restrict vegetation growth so we created the patio area.”

The area has been transformed with walkways and outdoor seating areas—some made with recycled glass; open planting beds have been added for future food gardens. Any trees that were removed during the renovation were repurposed locally as firewood or mulch. New trees were added to ensure future visitors could enjoy a respite from the sun. Sustainable Clark played an important role in selecting plants and trees that would thrive well in the space.

“We strove to select native, wildlife-supporting or resilient varieties for as much of the landscaping as possible,” said Jenny Isler, Clark’s director of sustainability.

It is estimated that the renovation will recapture 95 percent of the previous steam losses and save Clark between 87,000 and 130,000 mmBtu's (million metric British thermal units) per year, a significant contribution to Clark’s Climate Action Plan goals.

“The new Alden Quad is beautiful and much more usable,” said Isler.

Renovations were completed in time for Family Weekend (Sept. 26-28); students and staff celebrated the space on Oct. 6 by enjoying fall-themed snacks (pumpkin whoopie pies, apple crisp, pumpkin hummus, and sparkling apple cider) at the picnic tables under bright red umbrellas.

“I love that there is a new location closer to where I live where I can branch out and be outside,” said Zoe Fishman ’17. “I never really knew about this area before but I’m glad I do now!”

Rachel Hedgepath ’17 agreed. “I’m really excited that Alden Quad is blooming and it makes me more excited to sit outside and socialize.”

Nina Walsh ’17 added, “I feel like it is a great opportunity for the students living in Dana and Hughes [residence halls] to come together.”

— Emma Ogg '17, Media Relations Assistant