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New College Of Florida Begins Library Plaza Renovation, Bell Tower Project

New College of Florida students will see changes on campus when they return in the fall.

Implementing various parts of its 2006 Campus Master Plan, New College recently began a $300,000 renovation on the plaza in front of the Jane Bancroft Cook Library. Sharing the facility with the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, a key component of the project is the construction of a new $400,000 bell tower. The timing of the library plaza renovation is tied to the Fall 2011 opening of the new campus Academic Center and Plaza, located adjacent of the library.

"Over the last few years, New College has been implementing various parts of its Master Plan, which includes urban design components to foster a greater sense of community to enhance the educational and environmental experience for students, faculty and staff,'' says Linda Joffe, New College associate director of public affairs.

According to Joffe, the plan marked an important step in the college's transition back to an independent campus on its historical property, which encompass the former estates of Charles Ringling and Ralph Caples; in 2001, New College separated itself from USF, becoming Florida's independent honors college.

Located between Ringling Plaza and College Drive -- just north of the Ringling Museum and Asolo Repertory Theatre -- the entire plaza in front of the Jane Bancroft Cook Library will be "scraped,'' making way for designs by Graham-Booth Landscape Architecture of St. Petersburg: new pavers, landscaping, lighting, grass, raised planters and tables with attached seating.

In addition, a 64-foot bell tower, designed by Renker-Eich-Parks Architects of St. Petersburg, will evoke New College's historic Four Winds seal and the "building on learning'' concept. The obelisk-style tower will feature four twisting, precast concrete pilasters held together by two rings. Mounted between the rings will be four bells built by French company Paccard, the "Stradivarius of bell makers.'' Currently, more than 120,000 Paccard bells are located in cities and villages throughout the world.

"The modernist bell tower is a welcomed addition to campus architecture. On many college campuses, a bell tower is a landmark and New College wanted to give its students a similar experience,'' Joffe says. "The project is expected to further transform the heart of the campus, creating a seamless, communal outdoor space -- the perfect transition between the historic Ringling-era campus and residential campus.''

According to Joffe, the four bells can be programmed to produce a wide range of melodies. The college hopes that students in the music program will embrace an opportunity to create original music to be played by the new bells.

Funds for the $700,000 project are provided by a $400,000 donation by philanthropists and community leader Beverly Koski with the remaining $300,000 designated by state of Florida infrastructure funding. Project manager and New College Senior Architect Jack Whelan expects the project to be complete by October 2012.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Linda Joffe, New College of Florida
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