The Anderson Social Science Center has had a very unique history here at Gustavus. Built in 1948, the building originally housed the campus library, which was named Folke Bernadotte in 1950. The library remained in this building for 30 years until 1978, when the current library was constructed.
After the library was relocated, the departments of Economics/Management, History, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology/Anthropology all moved into the slightly renovated social science building.
Since then, the makeup of the building has changed. “In the 1990s, the Political Science Department vacated Anderson for Old Main, and then the History department switched over from social sciences to humanities,” Professor of History Kevin Byrne said. This leaves the building in its present state.
Since the building was originally designed as a library, the same architecture still remains. “The [book] stack areas, on the west side of the building, were constructed as four floors with very low ceilings, since they were to be simply functional for storing books,” Professor Byrne said.
This has all led to the present state of the building and the upcoming October meeting of the Board of Trustees, who will decide whether or not to approve the plans to build a new academic building to house the departments in Anderson.
Both Byrne and Physical Plant Director Warren Wunderlich stress the point that the new building is not going to be named a social science center.
The new building is planned to house the social science departments of Economics/Management, Psychology, and Sociology/Anthropology. In addition, the departments of History and Communication Studies would also relocate to the new building.
Until a donor steps up to cover a large portion of the costs, the new building will simply be named “New Academic Building,” Wunderlich said.
The new building will be located on the north end of the old football field, with the south end filled in with landscaping.
Construction on the new building will begin as soon as approval is given from the Board of Trustees. “That all depends on the Board,” Wunderlich said, “They will either approve the plans in October or January along with setting a start date for construction.” The earliest possible start date would be the spring of 2010, with a projected construction schedule of 16 to 18 months.
As for the plans right now, since 2007, the departments involved have been helping the design team develop the plan for the new building.
According to Byrne, “Every classroom will have a full array of electronic capabilities. The spaces for psychology laboratories would be constructed precisely for that purpose, including space designed to house animals. There will be two computer classrooms and a separate digital arts space for communications studies classes.” He added that “The building will be far more user-friendly than the current building, and it will be built purposely to house the departments that will occupy it, unlike today’s Social Science Center.”
Byrne also noted that the new building will be LEED-certified, meaning that the construction crews will incorporate several measures to reduce energy wastes and costs.
With the planned exodus of all departments out of Anderson, the fate of this building is still up in the air.
“Anderson is one of the three remaining stone buildings on campus, so we want to keep it,” Wunderlich said. “There will be some renovation, additions and a name change.”
There are suggestions that the Nursing and Education departments move into Anderson, but as Wunderlich stressed, it is a big maybe.