Northfield and its colleges: ahead or behind the curve?

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In today’s New York Times, a front page article titled Rural Colleges Seek New Edge and Urbanize: A new concept of the college campus is taking root: a small city in the country that is not for only the young.

What does Northfield and its colleges have to learn from this trend?

Some quotes:

“When you picture a global university, you picture urban,” said Amy Gutmann, the Penn president. “You picture restaurants, art galleries, you picture day and night, taking in movies, live performances.”

Buildings will be close to the street and roads kept narrow to encourage pedestrian traffic and de-emphasize cars. The neighborhood and its buildings are meant to recall the housing and shops built in American towns in the first half of the 20th century.

“It is about creating walkable places that are sustainable and gratifying on a human scale,” said Robert L. Chapman, managing director of Traditional Neighborhood Development Partners, the developer of what will be called the Village at Hendrix.

“I think liberal arts colleges and universities are all about the serendipitous moments,” said John Fry, president of Franklin & Marshall. “You’re in the coffee shop on a Saturday morning sipping a cup of coffee and you run into a professor, and two hours later you’ve had one of those transformative moments.”

5 thoughts on “Northfield and its colleges: ahead or behind the curve?”

  1. I think they should, Ross. Brendan Etter wrote this in the movie theater discussion thread at:
    https://locallygrownnorthfield.org/archives/355/#comment-1048

    I think a downtown performing arts center that combines cinema (including independent, cult, classic or (gasp) art films), live theater, dance, exhibits, gallery space, music, singing, etc… would be viable and would attract people from all around. Get them shopping downtown, going out to eat before or after a show, hitting one of the bars or pubs after a performance. Sounds like a winner to me. Anyone? An Arts Town needs spaces like that. It could be a huge financial and social benefit to the whole community. Any downtown building owners want to take the chance?

    I don’t think he was referring to having the colleges be the ones to build it. But won’t Carleton argue that the Old Middle School, soon to be college arts center, will function as this type of facility?

  2. Griff, Thanks for noting this article, which also caught my eye. A more walkable, bikeable town will also help the colleges attract students.

    A performing arts center would be good too. It would be great if this could be done privately, as the city seems to have a lot on its back now. However, Philip Spensley called for an arts center combined with a remodeled library, extending south from the present library; that was in a Nfld News column a while back.

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