By Tuck Communications
Published Aug 01, 2010
Tuck Assistant Dean Penny Paquette T'76 had been working for six years on the buildings that would become Achtmeyer, Raether, and Pineau-Valencienne halls when the impact of the project really struck her for the first time.
She was standing at the center of the job site on the western edge of campus, beneath a massive web of structural steel that would soon become the glass-clad McLaughlin Atrium in Raether Hall. It was open to the sky and construction debris was spread all about, but it commanded a view through the pines to the Connecticut River. Paquette recalls being struck by the power of the place that, 12-months later, has added a new dimension to student life at Tuck.
Much of the credit belongs to Dean Paul Danos who, very early in the process, defined the need for one truly stunning feature, a space large enough to hold the entire Tuck community at once. This "wow space," as Paquette took to calling it, would also have to fit seamlessly into the New England landscape. The result, after much back and forth with architect Geoff Wooding of Goody Clancy and his team, was the soaring glass atrium and the massive granite hearth that anchors it firmly in the New Hampshire landscape.
"We tried to put into each building elements of the Stell Hall model, the big Edwardian-style space with beautiful ceilings and a fireplace," says Danos. "I think we succeeded, and there is kind of a sisterhood of buildings at Tuck that have the same kind of feeling." The atrium also reinforces the design's central theme by creating spaces that encourage the personal interactions that are central to the Tuck experience, says Paquette who, as assistant dean for strategic initiatives, was Tuck's primary voice in the design and construction of the $40-million facilities that opened in December. "Tuck is lucky in that we have a wide variety of facilities, some part of the historical core and some newer, that over the years have been designed to enhance the total experience of being an MBA student here," she says.
Think back to those moments at Tuck that did the most to shape your life and career. The classroom instruction you received is on par with any in the world, but the most transcendent moments probably took place outside the classroom, in conversation with a favorite professor or during a late-night brainstorming session with classmates. Moments like these are central to the Tuck way of learning, and though you may seldom stop to think about it, the frequency and quality of such meetings owes much to the places in which they occur. Creating spaces that facilitate them has been a guiding principle in the design of Achtmeyer, Raether, and Pineau-Valencienne halls.
"We've added classroom spaces and study spaces so the students have really good places to meet, and that reinforces Tuck's emphasis on networking and teamwork," Danos says of the three brick-and-copper-clad buildings. "I think it's the best residential MBA complex in the world."
Raether Hall is built around the glass atrium with a view overlooking a broad terrace surrounded by stately pines, with the Connecticut River beyond. Radiating from it are wings full of meeting spaces and sunlit lounges, while on the floor below reside three state-of-the-art classrooms. Two new student residence halls, Achtmeyer and Pineau-Valencienne, flank Raether Hall and together boast 85 single-occupancy rooms, with group kitchens and lounges on each floor. The three buildings are contiguous and designed to draw in natural light and create broad sight lines, so that a student standing in the doorway of her dormitory room can see classmates gathered in the atrium below.
The complex has rapidly shifted the center of student life to the west, where the new buildings stand near Whittemore Hall, completed in 2000. "In conceptualizing our campus, one of the things we wanted to accomplish was to have enough modern world class living space for all of the students who wanted to live on campus," Danos says. "Now we have that with the three residential buildings, Whittemore, Pineau-Valencienne, and Achtmeyer. And in doing this we have also rationalized the campus so that the living is done on the west side and the faculty and administration are on the east side."
That shift is extremely gratifying to Paquette, who earlier managed the design and construction of Whittemore Hall, and spent the last six years bringing the current project to fruition. "Each of the buildings makes the implementation of Tuck's strategy possible in its own way," Paquette explains. "Whittemore was completed at a time when we were expanding the student body and it created additional on-campus housing that allowed us to convert older student housing for use as new faculty and research facilities," she says. That transition continues with the opening of the new residence halls and the conversion of Buchanan Hall to faculty and executive education use. "It's a rolling process," Paquette says of the modernization and expansion of Tuck's facilities.
When I open my door right now, I can see the atrium, and people coming and going on the far stairway. You can have five conversations on your way to lunch. But that's Tuck for you.
C.B. Hall T'10
Wooding and a team of architects translated the vision into a design, and Reed Bergwall T'81 of Dartmouth's Office of Planning, Design, and Construction supervised the building project. The concept itself, however, was very much the creation of Paquette and Danos. "Part of the reason for that is that design by committee doesn't work very well," Paquette explains. "A huge number of small details and decisions add up to the overall effect. An architect has a vision and you work with him to adapt it so that it fits your needs and expectations."
The atrium gave the buildings the requisite "wow factor," but it is the attention to small details that makes it such a well rounded success, from the wide-open sight lines and foot traffic patterns to such modern concerns as data connectivityâï¿½ï¿½the buildings contain 26.5 miles of 10-gigabyte cable and 50 wireless repeaters. The project is equally cutting edge in its approach to sustainability. All three buildings are designed to LEED Silver standard, featuring renewable materials, a hydronic heating and cooling system, and details like a single on/off switch that controls every light in each student's room. All the exterior glass is triple-glazed, so that even on a biting day in January the inside surface of the windows are warm to the touch.
Such material and construction costs more initially, but they also yield operational cost savings over time, Paquette says. At Dartmouth College, every building is designed to stand for at least 100 years, and the new halls at Tuck are no exception. Using the best materials available was a simple decision; a more challenging part of the design process was to create spaces that endure; to build in a style that is at once thoroughly modern, yet fits with Tuck's existing buildings and the unique landscape.
"It's the complete opposite of that horrible ugly 1960s architecture," says C.B. Hall T'10, who knows something of which he speaks. As an undergrad, he lived in a dorm designed to withstand nuclear blasts and discourage student riots. "You can imagine, when you live in a riot-proof building, they make it as hard as possible for interaction. This is the complete opposite of that. Not only is it beautiful, it's very social.
"When I open my door right now, I can see the atrium, and people coming and going on the far stairway. You can have five conversations on your way to lunch," he says. "But that's Tuck for you. If you don't like people, you do not want to be at Tuck."
Hall says he was happy to break up with his "flushmate" as students in adjoining rooms refer to the person with whom they shared a bathroom in Buchanan Hall. Not that Hall was complaining. Before moving into Buchanan, his previous home was a cabin in a cashew orchard in South Africa's KwaZulu Natal province, where he spent a year doing non-governmental organization work. "There were so many bugs hitting the windows that it sounded like it was raining, but I slept well because there was nobody around," he says. "The funny thing is I sleep well here, too. While it's designed to maximize social interaction, somehow they've made it so sound doesn't travel."
Details like triple-glazed glass and residence-room acoustics consumed a large part of Paquette's professional life for six years. Along the way her family, many of whom have connections to Tuck and to Dartmouth, decided that a space in one of the buildings should bear her name.
"They came to me and I said, 'of course Penny's name should be in this building. She built it,'" recalls major gifts director Erin Cochrane T'97, who oversees capital giving, including the Paquette gift and those associated with more than 50 other named spaces in the buildings. "Now she has a beautiful, beautiful lounge on the fourth floor that looks over the terrace and the river."
Like many who named spaces in the building or gave to the building project, the true impact of her gift didn't strike Paquette until the evening of the building dedication dinner on December 12. Less than 48 hours earlier, she had worked long into the night stripping the plastic wrapping from chairs that had arrived on the last truck that afternoon. A powerful storm had been bearing down on the Upper Valley as a crew of finish carpenters worked overtime to bring the last of the woodwork to their exacting standards. "A project like this is also about the teamwork and feeling of camaraderie that goes into it," she says. "There's a feeling of group accomplishment that is very nice."
First, though, the buildings would have to be made ready for the guests, and those guests would have to arrive through the gathering storm, which was already lashing Hanover with snow and ice. Cochrane fretted that the weather could keep some of the donors away, but in retrospect she says she should have had more faith. The donors and their family and friends arrived steadily through the storm, and not even the temporary failure of the Dartmouth steam plant could dent the festive mood. As darkness fell and guests arrived for the dinner and dedication ceremony in the McLaughlin Atrium, a fire was blazing in the great hearth and spotlights limned the frosted pines outside.
"The Lone Pine is a symbol of Dartmouth, and you look out the window and there they are, for real, not a prop," Cochrane says. "The space is elemental; it's of the elements. The initial impression was jaw-dropping for many."
The guests had come not only to mark the opening of three spectacular buildings, but to celebrate reaching the $110-million goal in the Investing in Excellence capital campaign, of which Achtmeyer, Raether, and Pineau-Valencienne halls are the most visible result. The buildings stand as a fittingly enduring token of the generosity of Tuck alumni and friends, but their construction was possible only because of the substantial contributions made by certain donors of exceptional generosity. Those gifts allowed Tuck to continue with its academic programs, including the addition of new faculty and research efforts that have reinforced Tuck's position among the world's very best business schools. Three of those exceptional donors are William F. Achtmeyer T'81, Didier Pineau-Valencienne T'57, and Paul E. Raether T'73. The new buildings bear their names in recognition of their abiding support.
"People who had stretched to give for something that is very meaningful were finally able to see their name over a doorway, to see their loved ones' names and say, 'Look at this thing that I'm giving,'" says Cochrane.
The gathering had the feel of a family occasion. It served as a reunion of sorts for the Tuck family, and family was a theme in many of the named spaces. There were several multigenerational gifts, and a study room, courtyard, and alcove endowed by the classes of 1978, 1980, and 1983, respectively. Peter Georgiopoulos T'87, who sponsored the large 130- seat classroom, attended with his wife and young son, parents, brother, and nephew. Penny Paquette was there with her family too, and on the afternoon of the gala she and her daughter made their way to the fourth floor to pose for a photograph in the Paquette Alcove Lounge. Sitting on the windowsill they found a hand carved wooden plaque bearing the words "Penny's Place" and a note from the craftsmen who had made it. It said simply, "Thank you Penny."