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Green space debuts in heart of campus

Carnegie Green is shaded by more than 30 trees and features a perennial garden. Photo: Michael Richmond

After more than a year of construction, the finishing touches were put on Carnegie Green this summer.

Located where the old Carnegie Library once stood, the green offers an expanse of lawn and perennial gardens stretching from University Hall west to the Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management (HRTM) building, and from Penrose Library south to the Mary Reed Building. With more than an acre of open lawn, there’s plenty of room for class gatherings or even a game of Ultimate Frisbee. A granite-walled garden terrace looks down on all the action.

The project began with needed upgrades to underground utilities, including steam vaults and pipes. Because the area was going to be disrupted anyway, it made sense to re-landscape at the same time, says University Architect Mark Rodgers.

“We wanted to build an area where the garden is the focus, but we wanted to maintain the lawn aspect of it,” Rodgers says.

The green is shaded by more than 30 trees, including gingko and flowering cherry. Shrubs — including lilac, roses and low-growing evergreens — edge the perennial garden, which is lush with stonecrop, coral bells, iris, purple coneflower and dozens of other sun-loving varieties.

The garden is accentuated by Carnegie Green’s “pioneer gold” granite terrace wall, which harmonizes with the base of the Mary Reed Building and the texture of University Hall. The coloration also complements materials used on Penrose and incorporates the same granite used in the HRTM building. New brick walkways tie the green to the Harper Humanities Garden.

“It was an effort to connect four distinct architecture types and bring the buildings together,” Rodgers says. “Landscape Architect Spencer Nickel did a masterful job unifying what had been a leftover space after the demolition of Carnegie Library in 1990.”

The $1.9 million project also included installation of brick walkways, lampposts and guardrails around the Humanities Garden water features, making the area compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In all, 5.5 acres were impacted by the utility and landscape work.

“A campus is more than a building or classroom,” Rodgers says. “Too many universities don’t pay a lot of attention to their landscape.

“The best learning can happen between buildings,” he adds. “It’s where you run into a faculty member or a classmate and strike up a conversation that can change your life.”

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