WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Williams College made public on Wednesday the latest architects' rendering of a new, 15,000-square-foot, three-story bookstore building at the corner of Spring and Walden streets. Construction is set to begin later this year.
In providing an image of the rendering, Frederick W. Puddester, Williams VP for finance & administration and treasurer, said the design was reviewed by the school's internal bookstore committee in a process that has involved "quite a bit of consultation." The evolution of the building has also been the subject of ongoing stories in the student newspaper, The Williams Record.
"In the decentralized way that decisions are made at a college, especially Williams, it's long been the case here that design decisions are made by each building committee. In this case that was the Bookstore Building Committee. They’re Amy Johns (Zilkha Center), Dave Pilachowski (Librarian), E.J. Johnson (Art), Karen Shepard (English), Ken Jensen (Facilities), Lee Park (Chemistry and Associate Dean of the Faculty), Matt Sheehy (Finance), Rita Coppola-Wallace (Design and Construction), and Mike Wood (Project Manager)."
On Jan. 20, Puddester spoke about the bookstore building, saying it would house a cafe, a new text book and retail trade bookstore on two stories and office space on the third story. The college's building plans were also outlined in an Oct. 5, 2015, public talk at Images Cinema by Rita Coppola-Wallace, the school's executive director for design and construction. Her talk was covered by iBerkshires at the time.
This week, Puddester added in an email accompanying the rendering:
"As yet another layer of consideration, the college established last year a Design Review Committee, which has on it four faculty members and three members of the design and construction office," Puddester said in an email this week. "The four faculty members are Provost Will Dudley, E.J. Johnson, Mike Lewis, and Marc Gotlieb, the last three of whom bring particular expertise.
"A high priority for all these groups was, of course, how the building will relate to the street. It does that through scale, materials, and literal openness through large doors that’ll allow activity from the store to spill out to the east and south. The generally accepted wisdom is that public design decisions lead to bland and less effective buildings. I wasn’t in Williamstown at the time, but the common understanding is that's how the current Williams Inn came to look the way it does. There was a stronger design, which after some public resistance was watered down to what most people subsequently concluded was visually disappointing."
Town Planner Andrew Groff says the college must submit a site-plan review for the bookstore building to the planning board, which must confirm that it complies with the town's development standards and compliance alternatives. After that approval, the college can apply for a building permit.