Campus Renewal

Happy Valley Gets Happier

The dorm known as Happy Valley was already one of the more popular residence halls on campus, with its central location, wood floors, big windows, and a large common room (pictured). But it just became more sought after, thanks to a major upgrade this spring largely funded by an anonymous donor. In a matter of only eight weeks, from snowy March to glorious May, the dorm was entirely gutted and rebuilt with quality and energy-saving materials.

With guidance from Centerline Architects, based in Bennington, Vermont, and general contractor Courtlan Construction, the building received all new electrical wiring, plumbing, sprinker system, windows, and energy-efficient lighting. The layered walls and roof include dense pack cellulose and rigid foam insulation for a total R-value of more than 40 in the walls and more than 63 in the roof. The dorm also features a new handicapped-accessible bathroom, bedroom, and building access.

Happy Valley’s warm cedar siding, low-profile, standing-seam metal roof, and common room with giant windows have all the appearance of a cozy ski chalet in the Alps. One of the smallest dorms on campus, housing approximately 15 students, the new face of Happy Valley now looms large in the college’s efforts to improve the energy efficiency.


Potash Grill Serves New Food for Thought

Recent visitors to the coffee shop in the campus center, now known as Potash Grill, will notice a serious facelift and significant upgrade in counter space. But what they may not fully appreciate are the months of collaboration behind the changes, in terms of design and funding, or the effort to address the needs of the local community.

“My inspiration for upgrading the grill was to make the campus center a comfortable, useful, and unique place to grab some food,” said Brian Newcomb, Potash Grill manager. “My hopes are to try to cater to the needs of students, faculty, and staff, as well as being available for the townsfolk of Marlboro. We have modified our hours to try to accommodate everyone.”  

The improvements were made possible through a generous donation from David White, administrative associate with the Marlboro Music School and Festival, which uses the space during the summer. Other upgrades came from the parents of Joshua Lande ’08, Jim and Joyce, who paid for renovation of the nearby bathroom, and from Metz, Marlboro’s very collaborative dining services provider, who donated a pizza oven. The class of 2015 even anted up with a class gift of new stools for the space.

The process of redesigning Potash Grill started with an ad-hoc committee composed of Brian, other staff members, and students. They brought sketches of their ideas to the Standing Building Committee, and finally presented the design to Town Meeting last fall. Town Meeting also unanimously granted additional funds the remodeling.

“We’ve brought in several new items like fried calamari, beer-battered pretzel cheese bites, and more vegetarian-friendly items like the portobello mushroom sandwich,” said Brian. “Our pizza is always a big hit.” Locals are invited to come pick one up to take home once school starts again—Potash Grill is open noon to midnight, 7 days a week, during the academic year.