Alpha Phi physical plant nears finish
By Lindsay Ellis, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Alpha Phi sorority’s first physical plant since the chapter’s recognition in April 2007 is nearing completion and is projected to be finished by July 1, according to project manager Jim Odorisio of Trumbull-Nelson Construction. Construction workers finished building the exterior roof and wall framing in late March.
Although the plant’s construction has been in the planning stages for several years, zoning issues, the economic recession and other setbacks have delayed its completion.
The plant, located at 2 North Park St., will house 23 members of the sorority starting in fall 2012, according to Alpha Phi president Lexi Campbell ’13. Members of the Class of 2013 and Class of 2014 will live in the building in roughly equal numbers during Fall term, she said.
Odorisio said he expects that the building will be ready for a “preliminary look-see” by members in June.
As May approaches, the building’s exterior will start to be finalized with the addition of trim, windows and roofing, according to Odorisio. Trumbull-Nelson will also install the plumbing and electrical infrastructure at that time, he said.
The site for the $2.6-million house, funded by the Office of Residential Life, was secured in winter 2011 after several delays, Director of Residential Operations Woody Eckels said. Construction of the house began in fall 2011, and after being hired in early December 2011, Trumbull-Nelson excavated and installed underground utilities for the building in January. The firm completed the concrete foundation and the basement and concrete floor slab in February, Odorisio said.
In 2008, the College planned to build the sorority’s physical plant at 26 East Wheelock St. The location was abandoned, however, because it lies outside the area within which the Town of Hanover allows the College to construct buildings, according to Eckels.
“In between the time we designed the building and when it came time to reinstitute the project, the town voted on an amendment to say student housing could only be in the institutional zone,” Eckels said.
The zoning shift has restricted the College’s construction options, which also delayed the construction of a house for Kappa Delta sorority, Ellie Sandmeyer ’12, former president of the Panhellenic Council and a member of Alpha Phi, said.
The College hired Haynes and Garthwaite Architects — the group that designed Alpha Xi Delta sorority’s physical plant and the Latin American, Latino and Caribbean affinity house — to undertake the project following a bid process, Eckels said.
A building committee of Alpha Phi members provided input and feedback at regular schematic meetings throughout the course of the design process, Eckels said. At the latest meeting, the committee took a three-dimensional virtual tour through the building.
About 20 Alpha Phi members currently live on the fourth floor of Hitchcock residence hall, Campbell said. Although the floor is a “great location,” its common room cannot accommodate all of the sorority’s members for weekly meetings, Sandmeyer said. Once the physical plant opens, all of the sorority’s members will be able to congregate in the living room.
Members of KD will move to the fourth floor of Hitchcock when Alpha Phi members relocate, according to Sandmeyer, who said she hopes that the physical plant will be a “draw” for the sorority during the recruitment process.
“I’ve run the rush numbers for years now,“ she said. “We definitely saw AZD build a lot of momentum in terms of recruitment after they finally got their physical plant. We’re hoping it’ll have a similar effect on Alpha Phi. We haven’t had a problem, but historically it’s been a big boost.”
Benefits of a physical plant include the ability to hold pre-recruitment parties, weekly meetings and parties during recruitment, according to Sandmeyer.
“Most women on campus would like to have their own social space to be in control of,” she said.
The sorority has nonetheless enjoyed a strong sisterhood without a house, extending 37 bids during fall rush in 2011, she said. This statistic is consistent with the average number of bids extended at each sorority during the rush process.
Sandmeyer said that the College’s sorority system has moved toward greater stability in recent years, though the growing number of physical plants is not a “huge part” of this shift.
“We’ve seen a lot of parity in how the houses are rushing because of the strength and expansion of the sorority system,” Sandmeyer said.
Campbell said she is looking forward to giving potential new members tours of the physical plant and decorating the house for rush events, but she is most excited about the house’s kitchen, living room and library, she said.
“No one likes studying in the library on a Sunday night, where you can smell the stress,” she said.