In its 63 years on campus, the Anderson Social Science Center has served a variety of functions to students and staff alike.
Originally constructed in 1948, the building was known as the Folke Bernadotte Library. The library was relocated to its current location in 1978. After a minor renovation, the building became known as the Anderson Social Science Center (SSC), and over the years provided a home to the history, political science, psychology, anthropology/sociology and economics/management departments.
Once Beck Academic Hall was completed in the summer of 2011, the departments of SSC relocated to the new building, and since then, SSC has stood vacant.
Director of Physical Plant Warren Wunderlich said, “It is kind of an odd structure that has its own charm. Just another good reason why it needs to be resurrected.”
Besides undergoing departmental changes, SSC has suffered through physical changes as well.
“When the library was relocated, the transition from a library to an academic hall was awkward at best. There were a number of challenges. The offices had bleak accommodations,” Wunderlich said.
Renovating SSC has become a top priority for the college.
“At the time it was built, it was the only air-conditioned building, but as the college progressed, it was clearly the least desirable building on campus. Now that Old Main has been renovated and Beck Hall has been built, the Anderson Social Science Center needs to be reborn,” Wunderlich said.
Prior to certain renovations, much of the section facing the South Mall and the section facing the valley were composed of windows.
“One of the most interesting things will be to see how the building will open again. In 1972, during the energy crisis, many of the building’s windows were black outlined. The east side and the Hello Walk side were cut in half,” Wunderlich said.
This renovation will be similar to the renovation of Old Main, where the building will be completely internally restructured, but externally remain the same.
The faculty has been in the process of consulting with two different architectural firms. Both firms have worked with the college before: one was in partnership in renovating Old Main, the other in constructing Beck Hall.
“One firm will be picked, hopefully before the end of the semester, and we can push the project forward,” Provost and Dean of the College Mark Braun said.
“More ideas on renovations will include removing everything inside and working with the shell of the building. None of the existing renovations have had much lasting value. The building itself is one of the two stone buildings on campus, the other being Old Main. There is a value in retaining the structure,” Wunderlich said.
All the existing electrical, heating and air conditioning will be taken out. Once these components are replaced, the planning for departmental structuring will begin.
Currently the stacks, a section of SSC, retain their structure from the building’s function as a library. There are shorter ceilings on three levels, with floor to ceiling shelving.
“We are hoping to take the three floors out and make a large atrium-like room,” Braun said.
“The architects will be working with departmental faculty to see what the space’s needs are. In adding more modern features, such as elevators, heating and differently functioning rooms, we will lose some of the existing programming space. It really depends on the consultation with the architects, but the newly renovated SSC will most likely house the education department,” Braun said.
Other departments in contention for a new home may include art education, Gustavus Technology Services, a geography map storage center and library, an interfaith space and the John S. Kendall Center for Engaged Learning. A neutral, shared space for interdisciplinary programs may also be possible.
“Nursing was in consideration for a while, but the department decided it would make more sense for them to wait for the renovation of the Lund Center and move in where their facilities were better suited. There is a lot more common space to be shared with human anatomy and physiology and simulation and performance,” Braun said.
The summer of 2013 is the projected completion date.
“It is really nice for Gustavus to be able to follow up on the spectacular Beck Hall opening, which was well-accepted by the staff and students. We have the ability to renew and preserve this important college landmark,” Braun said.