Carleton College has a terrific informational website for its new Arts Union building (the old Northfield Middle School). In addition to showing floor plans, architectural renderings, and a 3-D “fly-through”, the website also features a “Neighborhood wiki” as a vehicle for communication with the community. The wiki/blog requires registration. Kudos to Carleton for using all the means at its disposal to communicate with and engage the citizens of Northfield.
I have to admit to being undecided about whether the building addition’s architecture is to my taste. It does look striking, but I have a hard time imagining the visual impact the materials and massing will have on Central Park. I wouldn’t expect that any addition to the old Middle School/High School shell would be made in the same style or with similar materials; however, to my mind the proposed design is not sensitive to the context of either the existing building or the location. I’d prefer that Carleton limited its starchitecture to the campus proper, without imposing it on the rest of the neighborhood, but it’s not my call.
However, I reserve the right to change my mind. I might actually become a fan of the new building. I certainly appreciate Carleton’s commitment to keep the original building as a piece of Northfield’s history.