Despite the recession and the college’s tiny endowment (which has decreased by a third because of the recession) Bennington College administrators plan to construct three new buildings on campus using part of a $34 million financing arrangement. The buildings will be the Center for the Advancement of Public Action (CAPA). The site plan above includes the three buildings that would comprise the new center. The long, rectangular building will house four faculty/visiting speaker apartments. The small square building will house a lecture/conference space while the larger square will house the Field Work Term offices, classrooms, and a lounge space.

The center will, architecturally, create an additional “front” for VAPA (Visual And Performing Arts building), as it will be directly “behind” it. It is the hope of the architects that the area between VAPA and CAPA will have high foot traffic. The many doors that exit into the current parking lot/sculpture graveyard will instead open onto a planted courtyard-like space that will continue to allow deliveries to VAPA. The image below is a siteplan that includes CAPA (top) and VAPA (bottom).


Liz Coleman, the college president, spoke about the new center at TED 2009 and on Vermont Public Radio. Her TED talk will be available later this year.


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CAPA was announced formally to the faculty in a closed meeting which focused almost exclusively on whether the building would have a hot tub, an indoor or an outdoor pool… no mention of public or action or courses or faculty. It was simply amazing (and telling) to listen to Liz go on and on and on about the pluses and minuses of a CAPA pool… and without tenure, the faculty (aside from a few) had to sit quietly and pretend to take her seriously.

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