The Physical Plant at Gustavus has made plans to landscape a new West Mall on the western axis of campus along Christ Chapel, in conjunction with the new academic building. Construction of the new West Mall will begin in the spring of 2011.
A mall is defined as a large area that is usually lined with trees or shrubbery that surrounds a public sidewalk. Gustavus currently has an existing mall called Eckman Mall. The Eckman Mall is located in front of Jackson Campus Center, where in the warmer months, students are often found sitting in groups enjoying the sun or tossing a frisbee.
“The mall we have now makes all the surrounding buildings look a little nicer, I think. I feel like a new mall leading up to this new building would equally enhance the building’s appearance, as well as provide another place for students to hang out and relax,” Sophomore Biology Major James Piper said.
The new West Mall being constructed on campus will lie mostly on the western axis of Christ Chapel and extend to Campus Drive and the Linneaus Arboretum. This mall has been in the planning stage since 1991 when the math building, Olin Hall, was built. Oddly enough, design plans originating from 1945 have also been around showing plans for a mall on the western end of campus, but those plans never were fulfilled.
Gustavus plans that most of the construction of the mall will be completed by the time the new academic building opens late in the fall of 2012.
“We have begun working with landscape architects to further develop the conceptual plan and establish some of the primary planning objectives,” Warren Wunderlich, Director of Physical Plant said.
The appearance of the mall is vital to the planning. The main goal of the landscaping ideas for the West Mall are to reflect the native landscapes of Minnesota, in much the same way as the Linneaus Arboretum does now. “Having an arboretum on the edge of campus is a rare asset for a college, and this mall will serve as a gateway to the arboretum,” Wunderlich said.
Wunderlich hopes the mall will be a pleasant sight on campus. “Like any open space, I would hope they would find it an enjoyable place to walk through, stop and spend some time talking or studying, enjoy the variety of Minnesota seasons and weather. More specifically with the West Mall, I would hope they would appreciate the connection it has with the Linneaus Arboretum, and, by extension, the natural landscapes of Minnesota,” Wunderlich said.
Students on campus echoed Wunderlich’s thinking. “I feel that the malls on campus are important because it gives Gustavus a feeling of openness, I guess. I’d rather go to a school that has space between buildings and room to run around than to a school that’s in the middle of a city. I feel that the malls are not being used enough to be useful, at least in the snowy months,” Sophomore student Tom Ulsby said.
“When it’s warm I play football and frisbee on the mall between Con/Vic and the art buildings, but rarely do I see others playing or relaxing there. On Eckman Mall there are always frisbee players tossing the disc about and people lounging in the rays of the sun which is nice to see a bunch of college kids enjoying the pleasure of the outside.”
Students should keep their eyes peeled for the beginnings of construction within the next academic year.