LSC Webinar Report: The Athenaeum at Goucher College

How spaces matter to shaping, sustaining, and celebrating community was the theme of the LSC webinar featuring the Athenaeum at Goucher College, presented by President Sanford J. Ungar and three of his Goucher colleagues: Linda Barone, Project Manager, Facilities Management Services; Nancy Magnuson, College Librarian; and Marc Roy, Provost.

In their process of planning, they translated the ancient concept of a space for meeting and learning into a contemporary physical embodiment of spaces that enable the meeting and learning of 21st century undergraduates.

Through their process of planning, they arrived at spaces that signal to students that “we are your spaces.” As illustrated by the photos, the Athenaeum incorporates spaces for personal reflection—in quiet corners over-looking the campus, as well as for play—in the multi-story forum. It provides spaces for formal and informal groups of students organizing the myriad of co-curricular activities which are integral to the overall experiences of today’s undergraduates.

The physical attributes of the Athaeneum—with its sharp angles and carefully thought-through and juxtaposed colors, its openness to what is happening within and beyond the facility—are a physical embodiment of what Goucher is about.


The centerpiece of Goucher’s campus and community

If you’ve never heard of an Athenaeum, that’s understandable. Few colleges anywhere have anything like it.

Because the pursuit of wisdom at Goucher is fundamental to daily life, we have woven the various threads of life at Goucher into one signature building. The Athenaeum is the flagship building of our campus—a physical hub that is also the figurative heart of our academic community.

Our Athenaeum is a high-tech library, a public forum, classrooms, a café, an art gallery, a radio station, a center for community service, places to meet and converse, and many other spaces—all in one.

Goucher has never before had a facility that concentrated the energies, talents, and traditions of our campus and community in a single, central location like this. And we need it.

The lifestyles and needs of today's students demand that we rethink the way we provide resources and services to them. They are active 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Technology is changing the way they think, learn, and connect with one another. The diverse aspects of their lives—social, academic, and otherwise—are blending together, and the lines between them are becoming less clear.

The Goucher College Athenaeum is alive with the energy of the people in (and all around it)—coming together at the intellectual, cultural, and social crossroads of the campus. It represents an important step forward in the evolution of Goucher College and an exciting new shape for the future of liberal arts education.