Do we shape our architecture, or does it shape us? How does a shared sense of place impact our relationships and inform our collective identity? These are the questions we attempt to answer each time we undertake a significant renovation or new construction on the Trinity campus.
For the University, balancing the practical with the aspirational is critical. After all, one of Trinity's greatest assets is our campus. Out of the crags and shears of an abandoned quarry, we built a functioning community where thousands of diverse people work, learn, live, and play in our mid-century, red-brick buildings.
As I tour the recently completed Coates Student Center, I see the answers to these questions made manifest. While the "bones" of the original space are easily recognizable, the purpose of the space has been renewed, becoming the engagement core of our campus. Students, faculty, staff and alumni benefit from having critical services and support in one place.
Where the bookstore used to be, the space has been artfully and effectively repurposed to create a one-stop-shop for the community to engage with Center for Experiential Learning and Career Success, Diversity and Inclusion, and Student Involvement. Just as importantly, the Office of Counseling and Wellness Services has found a new home in the west wing of the building, making their services not only more accessible for all, but more private as well. All of these changes create an interconnected hub, with offices that can now closely work together in the most literal sense to shape a well-rounded, well-educated student.
Alli Roman, director for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, is thrilled that her new space invites underrepresented students to find a safe haven as they explore ways to make Trinity home. Likewise, students and prospective employers find the privacy they need to conduct professional and productive interviews in the Office of Career Services. All together, the improvements represent the highest ideal to which design and architecture must subscribe—the facilitation of collaboration and connections. You see, the walls may move over the years, but the ethos represented by the Trinity red brick must endure.
I invite you to explore these new offices at the Coates Student Center and Dining Services Open House from 2 - 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28. Note the unifying architectural details that make Coates Student Center feel so "Trinity." More so, I encourage you to regard these spaces as your own, as destinations to seek help, to get answers, and to find community.
As Trinity's chief storyteller, I love to share news about the University. But I also love hearing from you. Please feel free to contact me at TUPresident@trinity.edu. Also, follow me on Twitter @TU_President19 or follow conversations on my website at president.trinity.edu.