John Kenny Forrer Learning Commons Update

A Building Worth The Wait

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Samantha Hince and Jackie Letaiugyang

Bridgewater Va.- Leaving for winter break, Bridgewater College students expected to return to a newly-completed Learning Commons. However, an email revealing that the building would not be completed as anticipated altered these expectations. Although there is no official opening date set as of yet, there is growing excitement for what has been long awaited. 

On Dec. 19, Bridgewater College students received an email from Anne Keeler, Vice President for Finance and Treasurer, with an update on the John Kenny Forrer Learning Commons. The email stated that the library was experiencing “some architectural and construction delays.” Students were informed that, due to these delays, the Learning Commons would no longer be opening on Jan. 6, the previously projected date. 

The Learning Commons’ Director, Andrew Pearson, had much to say on the progress of the project. Pearson explained some of the challenges and setbacks the project has faced, such as manufacturer delays, permit issues, and the need to train workers on new tools and materials. In addition, construction specifications and requirements have changed since work began in 2018. 

As President Bushman shared at the Student Senate meeting on Jan. 6, 2020, the primary issue causing this most recent delay is a staircase that has not been setting in correctly. 

Pearson was excited to share news of the progress that the library has been making despite the delays. All books and special collections have been moved into the new building, and large shipments of furniture have been arriving. Study spaces have been intentionally designed to accommodate various student needs, including different types of both group and individual study areas. Furniture for these areas has been specifically chosen to provide students as many options as possible. 

Pearson revealed detailed floor plans of the library, pointing out features such as the Learning Resources Suite, Smitty’s Cafe, and an art gallery. He also shared pictures that he has been taking throughout the process. These pictures help Pearson to document the process, so that if something goes wrong later he is better able to identify the root issue. Seen in these pictures are areas of the library that are completed or nearly completed, showing how much progress is being made. 

Pearson credits the building for its uniqueness and for what it will provide for students.

“The John Kenny Forrer Learning Commons is a beautiful building. I can’t wait for students to be able to enjoy it when it is complete. It is unlike any building we have on campus and it has also taken a process unlike any other construction project on campus. ​It is worth it,” He stated. 

When asked about a projected completion date, Pearson was hesitant to provide even a tentative time frame. He referred multiple times to the project operating on an “unfolding timeline.” He expressed his understanding of students’ frustration, especially for this year’s seniors, who are entering their fourth semester without a library on campus, and for sophomores, who have never had a library.