St. Lawrence University plans $1.27 million facelift for 'campus centerpiece' quad
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - 11:49 am

This sketch shows how designers envision the new quadrangle at St. Lawrence University. Gunnison Memorial Chapel is at the top of the rendering.

 CANTON -- St. Lawrence University plans a $1.27 million project to redesign the university’s quadrangle with new landscaping to make it a “campus centerpiece.”

The project will add green space, a level area in the center, and terraced steps leading to a promenade in front of Gunnison Memorial Chapel.

The work is expected to be completed before this fall, when a new residence hall being built on the eastern edge of the quad will open to as many as 155 students.

The university’s trustees last weekend approved the plan, which is aimed at making the quad a place for recreation and ceremonial activities.

The project will be paid for within existing the existing budget and private fundraising. The university has hired Saratoga Associates, which helped St. Lawrence create its facilities master plan a year ago, to design the quad landscaping. Northland Associates, the contractor building the new residence hall, will also do the work on the quad.

The project will begin in early spring and continue through the summer. The university plans to lay sod instead of seeding the lawn to help ensure the quad will be available for use in the fall.

Restoring the quad following the construction of the new residence hall and installation of geothermal wells was always part of the plan, said University Chief Facilities Officer Dan Seaman. This project allows for enhancements to the landscaping, including grading that will highlight the quad and the hill upon which the campus’ most iconic buildings stand.

There is now is a 19-foot drop in grade from the western edge of the quad down to where the residence hall is being built. The grading will create the terraced area leading up to the chapel and a nearly level area the size of a football field in the middle. This center area will have a barely perceptible 5 percent grade to facilitate drainage.

The university says designers plan to use high-quality materials for the steps and sitting walls to match the architectural “vocabulary” of campus, including the stone used in the new residence hall.

The project, which will remove the “high road” and parking in front of the chapel and Richardson Hall as well as other paved areas, will add nearly 8,000 square feet of green space to the quad.

The plans call for adding a small number of parking spaces and a turn-around in front of Richardson to accommodate accessible parking for the chapel.

Meanwhile, the university is completing its review of the damage to the Gunnison Chapel caused during a fire in October that destroyed the steeple. Restoration work will begin soon and likely continue into spring 2015, according to a news release.

Workers this past fall finished installing 24 geothermal wells underneath the quad. The well field and piping, which will provide year-round heating and cooling to the new residence hall, will be covered with a minimum of five feet of soil.

Construction of the residence hall, which is being built on the former road and parking lot between the Noble Center and the quad, began in April. The university has raised more than $7 million toward the projected total cost of $14 million.

For more information on the new residence hall and related projects, visit