Campus News

Trustees Approve Construction of New Academic Building

Story posted October 29, 2002

The Bowdoin College Board of Trustees has approved the construction of a new academic building on the Brunswick campus at the corner of Bath Road and Sills Drive next to Smith Auditorium.

The building will be named Kanbar Hall in recognition of the support of The Kanbar Charitable Trust, which provided the lead gift for the project.

The $8.75 million 25,500-square-foot building will house the departments of psychology and education, and the College's academic skills programs including the Baldwin Center for Learning and Teaching.

"For a long time Bowdoin College has had a serious need for a building to properly serve these important academic programs, which touch every student who walks the Bowdoin campus," said President Barry Mills. "We are deeply grateful to Elliott Kanbar, Bowdoin Class of 1956, who made the gift possible through The Kanbar Charitable Trust. This extraordinary gift recognizes the value of an exceptional liberal arts education, and strengthens and enriches the Bowdoin curriculum for countless present and future students."

The three-story building is being designed by Cambridge Seven Associates, the Massachusetts architectural firm that oversaw the award-winning renovation of Searles Science Building.

Kanbar Hall's design features a welcoming central entrance opening onto Bath Road on one side and the quad near Cleaveland Hall on the other. In essence, the building will feature both a door to the town and a door to the campus, supporting Bowdoin's continuing effort to avoid construction that turns its back on Brunswick.

The placement of Kanbar Hall is also meant to celebrate the nearby Bowdoin Pines. The building will face the trees on the corner of the campus, and the Kellogg Tree, the oldest tree on campus, is directly within the entrance's sightlines. The building's T-shape will minimize the number of trees needing to be removed.

With the design nearly complete, discussions will soon begin with officials from the Town of Brunswick as the project proceeds through the permitting process. Construction is scheduled to begin in March 2003, and the building will be ready for occupancy in September 2004.

The major tenant of Kanbar Hall will be the psychology department, with the basement level and two top floors devoted to research space (including an observation lab, an auditory processing lab, and a neuroscience lab), teaching labs, and faculty offices. Currently housed primarily in Banister Hall behind the Chapel, the psychology department looks forward to the day when its faculty and research labs are no longer cramped or spread all over campus, and community spaces will be available for students and faculty to meet informally.

"For the first time in a long time, the psychology department will be under one roof, which is so critical for both functionality and a sense of departmental community," said Louisa Slowiaczek, chair of the department and a member of the building committee. "To have space that is actually designed for what it will be used for is very exciting. And everything will be state-of-the-art, which will take our academic program to a new level."

Also finding themselves under one roof for the first time will be Bowdoin's Academic Skills programs. These programs include the Baldwin Center for Learning and Teaching, the Quantitative Skills Program, and the Writing Project. The skills programs offer resources to help students attain their academic goals through such activities and services as peer tutoring, study skills workshops, and study groups. The Baldwin Center also offers resources for faculty on teaching methods, pedagogical innovations, and student learning styles and needs. The skills programs will occupy the new Learning Center on the first floor of Kanbar Hall, adjacent to the building's Computer Center.

The education department will make the move to Kanbar from Ashby House at 254 Maine Street. "It will be wonderful that the education department will be moving back to the heart of the campus," said Nancy Jennings, chair of the department and a member of the building committee. "We're also looking forward to sharing space with psychology and the academic skills programs. This proximity will facilitate collaboration and the sharing of ideas among our students and colleagues."

Elliott S. Kanbar of New York City is part owner of Skyy Spirits, founded in 1991 by his brother Maurice Kanbar. The Kanbars are also the owners of Manhattan's Quad Cinema.

Previously, Elliott Kanbar was founder and partner in the $5-A-Day/Arthur Frommer group of companies which published travel guides, owned a chain of budget hotels, and operated an international travel wholesale company. Recently, he was the founder and Chairman of General Mortgage Corporation.

While a student at Bowdoin Kanbar was a member of Alpha Rho Upsilon and participated in Masque & Gown. He graduated with a degree in government. In addition to generously supporting Bowdoin since graduation, he has served the College as a BASIC representative, special gifts committee member, and reunion committee member.

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