The building is slowly getting windows, with electricity and internal walls soon to follow. While some remain skeptical of the construction timeline, the building seems well on its way to a grand opening this fall.
Julia Rogers has the reputation of a ghost town or construction site to most current students. However, it stood as a library for over 50 years thanks to the largest gift made to Goucher, by a Miss Julia Rogers, whose bequeathed estate totaled almost $950,000.
In its later years, the Julia Rogers Library became dated, and Goucher’s book collections had outgrown the building. Something needed to be done.
“We were originally going to renovate the library as the library, back in 1999,” said Linda Barone, Goucher’s Project Manager of Facilities, who has overseen Goucher’s growing campus since 1996. “When Sandy was hired, we had done a new strategic plan where we wanted to grow the size of the college.”
Many don’t immediately connect the Athenaeum and Julia Rogers projects, but what they have each become depended greatly on the other. President Sanford Ungar, another key player in campus projects since his arrival in 2001, brought to light a multi-faceted solution to expanding campus, and the Athenaeum came to fruition.
“What we needed was a new library, and I felt that what has become the Athenaeum was a better idea, to build something that would not only be a library, but a campus center,” said Ungar.
With the opening of the Athenaeum, Julia Rogers became the focus of Goucher’s next big project to expand academic life.
“At that point, we needed more space in all of the academic departments, so after we built the Athenaeum, we started drawings pretty much right away,” said Barone.
Thus began the extensive research component that would find a way to utilize the empty space.
“It had a temporary use until we could get our act together and commission an architectural composition,” said Ungar. “We did a study of what all the different academic departments’ needs were – what would fit best in the Julia Rogers building, what departments we could move and which departments we could bring together and near each other to benefit from the synergy of having things in proximity to each other and all of that, so it took a couple of years to get going.”
Soon, Psychology, Physics, Math, Computer Sciences, the Welch Center for Graduate Studies, the Academic Center for Excellence, and Goucher’s language departments will find new homes in the building. Other sciences will have breathing room, departments will come together, and professors will have their own offices.
With roughly seven months to go, the fenced-in drilling to the side of the academic quad will turn Goucher’s academic world upside down and into a cohesively updated system.