MOCONAUGHGEDDON!! Mococalypse Now

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Last semester Michael Roth revealed that the Board of Trustees was considering demolition the likeliest option for McConaughy Hall.  But now that it looks like that will actually happen! Soon!

According to Physical Plant VP Joyce Topshe, Mocon is scheduled for demolition this summer, and is already being stripped down for hazardous material this week in preparation for that larger project.

And we are overcome with nostalgia! As a member of the graduating class of 2010, I am part of the last generation of Wes students to remember what is was like to eat in that giant spaceship, and it is so bittersweet. And we’re not alone – the Save Mocon Facebook group, created last week, already has over 500 members.

So, what to do, if anything? On the one hand, pressing financial concerns and logistical issues limit any further usage of the building. On the other hand, there is overwhelming sentimentality calling for… something… to be done.

According to the Argus, Physical Plant’s assessment of Mocon is that it is “unsound for contemporary purposes” – after almost 50 years of use, it fails to meet standards of environmental friendliness, is expensive to heat and cool, and apparently costs up to $20,000 to maintain when in use; it also has more limited accessibility to people with disabilities and a much smaller seating capacity than Usdan.

Which are all valid points – clearly, there’s no viable way to use the space in anything near its former capacity. The administration has written it off because any renovation of the structure would be costly and inefficient, and wants to do away with it sooner rather than later because it “presents a safety risk” if left standing. Eventually, presumably after a lot more money comes through, new student dorms will probably be built on the location.

People have been throwing around ideas for alternative uses for the structure – what about only sometimes, for events? Yes, Mocon was a much better venue for Halloween dances, and Foss Cross, and Queer Prom, and the B’nei Mitzvah party, than Beckham Hall or the hockey rink. But however inadequate those venues may seem in comparison to those who remember, the novelty factor of keeping Mocon around as a sporadically used event space is likely outweighed by the administration’s concern for the bottom line.

Miles Bukiet ’11, creator of the Save Mocon group, suggests that the expense of temperature control is the biggest kink in the works regarding the possible salvation of Mocon – if we find a use for it that avoids the energy issue completely, perhaps saving it would be worthwhile. Maybe so, but it’s unlikely that we’ll figure out such a use without a large groundswell of support from current students and alumni.

In fact, the University has already considered other options for use of the space which might have been acceptable to current students and alumni attached to the building, even drawing up estimates for how much each one would cost.

According to Joyce Topshe, those estimates have been calculated at:

  • Dining/Assembly with minimal renovations/code updates @ $2.5 Million
  • Dance/Theater/Art Studio @ $4.4 Million
  • Office Space for the ITS department @ $5.4 Million
  • Student Housing for 50 +/- beds @ $7.4 Million (50% greater than new construction)
  • Demolition Cost @ $898,485 total w/out structural fill

So demolition is by far the cheapest viable option that has been considered thus far. To further break it down, the demolition cost consists of the following:

  • Abatement ($200,000)
    Hazardous material assessment completed, estimate pending
  • Permitting, Design, Bidding ($45,000)
    < 50 years old is simplified, no community notification
    > 50 years old requires local agencies & community notification
  • Demolition, Landscaping ($653,485)

The demolition process is projected to take 8 months, and abatement begins this week. The deconstruction will start over the summer, and likely be completed before the Fall 2010 begins. Nice and clean.

For the curious, the total demolition cost is the equivalent of 36 years worth of paying $25,000 per year (assuming that 25k is the upper limit of how much it would cost) to keep it at its current state of maintenance.

But let’s be real. Barring the possibility of some wealthy alumni throwing a lot of money at the Board of Trustees, with a sound plan for Mocon’s future usage and preservation, there’s no effective argument for keeping that place around indefinitely. I’m not saying that I support knocking it down; my memories of that place are as fond (or pungent) as those of anyone in my year. But any nostalgia for that place is purely that – a sentimental yearning for simpler times (freshman year for ’10ers, Camp Wes for alumni) with little corroboration in current reality.

HOWEVER, if demolition is definitely the eventual fate of Mocon, what’s the rush? Voices in the administration are trying to positively spin the likelihood that the Mocon lot will sit empty for many years to come after demolition. The Argus provides this fantastic excerpt:

Instead of building plans for a new structure, the demolition would allow for the restoration of sustainable and native hillside on campus.

“We will allow water that used to run into storm drains to percolate into the earth,” [Construction Services Project Manager Alan] Rubacha wrote. “We will provide a much needed open space for birds. This open space will provide spectacular views into and out of Foss Hill and it will provide a connection to Vine St.”

Yes, finally, Wesleyan students’ demands for an avian sanctuary from which to view Vine Street have been heard.

While future generations at Wes might enjoy an unobstructed view of the tennis courts from the Foss Hill dorms, it’s too bad that the initial expense of demolishing it is being incurred now. The resulting empty lot would sit vacant and unused until the administration sets enough money aside and figures out what to do with it anyway.

So, preservationists, the time to act grows smaller by the day. Officially, Mocon’s fate is sealed. But anything is possible until the bulldozers show up – sit-ins? Die-ins? Illegal occupation? Squatting? Hunger strikes (funny, because it’s Mocon)? Sleeping dragon? Party riots? An organized show of student support, backed up by alternate plans for use of the space and a massive influx of alumni money? Anything!

If all else fails and destruction is, in fact, imminent, we can take comfort that the administration at least decided to wait until after the Class of 2010 graduates for the demolition, so we can spend our last few months reminiscing about whatever there is to remember. Clearly, the timing was not coincidental. We (current seniors, 2006-07 visiting prefrosh, and alumni) have this ridiculous attachment to this building; it would only be fitting if Mocon were sent off in a manner befitting its monumental stature in our collective memory.

Again, so many opportunities: Senior Cocks: Mocon edition (with surplus donated to Haiti this time)? Some kind of gala event, or ridiculous closing ceremony? An all-day spring festival, with food and live music, spilling into the Hewitt Courtyard?  I’m not being facetious in this part. At least 500 (and counting) of you feel strongly enough to join a facebook group – even if we fail to save Mocon’s physical presence on campus, the least we can do is put together an effort to send it off in the style it so thoroughly lacked.

The building hasn’t been maintained since Usdan opened in 2007, and has accrued the following damage since then:

  • Significant interior water damage on the upper level from old leaks
  • Skylight was leaking & is covered with a boat shrink wrap to prevent further damage
  • Several large windows are broken from vandalism
  • A/C system is inefficient and expensive to maintain. Currently non-functioning.
  • Air handler coils are not in working condition
  • Domestic Hot Water system leaks & the internal coils are fouled from lack of use
  • HVAC Controls are primarily pneumatic and are inoperable
  • Refrigeration systems leaking and dismantled
  • Plumbing systems were leaking & drained
  • Sanitary lines clogged with semi-solid material from inactivity
  • Electrical motor controls obsolete & in questionable condition
  • Fire alarm system not code compliant & includes just pull stations
  • No fire sprinkler system as required by code

Any use of the space in the near future would have to take these deficits into account. Ideas?

Comment your thoughts away, and join this group if you have not already but want to be part of some organized strategy for figuring this out: Save Mocon.

http://wesleyanargus.com/2010/02/12/mocon-demolition-set-for-summer-2010/

46 thoughts on “MOCONAUGHGEDDON!! Mococalypse Now

  1. Pingback: Mocon Gets a Flash Party – Wesleying

  2. Brian J. Glenn '91

    The following email from someone at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, dated Feb 25, 2010, was sent to an alumna, who has shared it on Weschat. Thought I would pass it on.

    Brian J. Glenn ’91

    # # #

    In response to your recent inquiry, the CT Trust for Historic Preservation has been working to encourage the preservation of McConaughy Hall, but without much success.

    The 1962 cylindrical dining hall and the related Foss Hill development (1957-1962) were designed by architect Charles Warner / Brown Lawford & Forbes in a modernist style that incorporated many native materials. McConaughy Hall and the Foss Hill buildings are historically and architecturally significant as an expression of Connecticut Modernism and as an important chapter in the development of the Wesleyan campus.

    I met with some of the faculty and staff at Wesleyan in the summer of 2007 to take a close look at McConaughy Hall and the related Foss Hill section of the campus. At the time of my visit McConaughy Hall was in very stable condition even though it was no longer in active use. The building’s large volume and multi-level access seemed to offer many opportunities for adaptive reuse.

    Unfortunately, the college was not responsive to my suggestions for preserving the building, securing it from damage, and exploring creative options for adaptive reuse. As a nonprofit organization, the leverage of the CT Trust is limited, but I hope that there might be sufficient interest among the Wesleyan alumni to explore the issue more completely before deciding on demolition.

    The Connecticut Trust and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have been working with the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism to document and preserve many of the state mid-20th century Modernist buildings. We have had some success in Hartford, New Haven and New Canaan, but many of the modern buildings by important architects have been demolished or are in danger of demolition.

    With the current media focus on sustainability, the CT Trust has been emphasizing that the adaptive reuse of existing buildings is the most cost effective type of recycling. Any existing building contains a high level of “embodied energy” – the energy that was expended to produce and transport the original materials and erect the building. That embodied energy is lost when the building is demolished and the materials are sent to a landfill. A life-cycle analysis of existing buildings will often demonstrate that appropriate rehabilitation and adaptive reuse can meet or exceed the performance of new construction.

    I hope that you and other members of the Wesleyan community can persuade Wesleyan University to take another look at the options for adaptive reuse of McConaughy Hall.

    If I can assist in any way, please let me know.

    Thanks,

    Gregory Farmer, Circuit Rider
    Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation
    National Trust for Historic Preservation
    940 Whitney Ave.
    Hamden, CT 06517

  3. Brian J. Glenn '91

    The following email from someone at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, dated Feb 25, 2010, was sent to an alumna, who has shared it on Weschat. Thought I would pass it on.

    Brian J. Glenn ’91

    # # #

    In response to your recent inquiry, the CT Trust for Historic Preservation has been working to encourage the preservation of McConaughy Hall, but without much success.

    The 1962 cylindrical dining hall and the related Foss Hill development (1957-1962) were designed by architect Charles Warner / Brown Lawford & Forbes in a modernist style that incorporated many native materials. McConaughy Hall and the Foss Hill buildings are historically and architecturally significant as an expression of Connecticut Modernism and as an important chapter in the development of the Wesleyan campus.

    I met with some of the faculty and staff at Wesleyan in the summer of 2007 to take a close look at McConaughy Hall and the related Foss Hill section of the campus. At the time of my visit McConaughy Hall was in very stable condition even though it was no longer in active use. The building’s large volume and multi-level access seemed to offer many opportunities for adaptive reuse.

    Unfortunately, the college was not responsive to my suggestions for preserving the building, securing it from damage, and exploring creative options for adaptive reuse. As a nonprofit organization, the leverage of the CT Trust is limited, but I hope that there might be sufficient interest among the Wesleyan alumni to explore the issue more completely before deciding on demolition.

    The Connecticut Trust and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have been working with the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism to document and preserve many of the state mid-20th century Modernist buildings. We have had some success in Hartford, New Haven and New Canaan, but many of the modern buildings by important architects have been demolished or are in danger of demolition.

    With the current media focus on sustainability, the CT Trust has been emphasizing that the adaptive reuse of existing buildings is the most cost effective type of recycling. Any existing building contains a high level of “embodied energy” – the energy that was expended to produce and transport the original materials and erect the building. That embodied energy is lost when the building is demolished and the materials are sent to a landfill. A life-cycle analysis of existing buildings will often demonstrate that appropriate rehabilitation and adaptive reuse can meet or exceed the performance of new construction.

    I hope that you and other members of the Wesleyan community can persuade Wesleyan University to take another look at the options for adaptive reuse of McConaughy Hall.

    If I can assist in any way, please let me know.

    Thanks,

    Gregory Farmer, Circuit Rider
    Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation
    National Trust for Historic Preservation
    940 Whitney Ave.
    Hamden, CT 06517

  4. DJ M

    Hi from the class of ’93. Does no one remember the MOCON smoke outs?

    I was an unwitting participant of the very last smoke out in ’89/’90, my frosh year. I went to good old MOCON for lunch, but was unexpectedly hit in the face w/ a wave of pot smoke & partially clad hippies in loin cloths beating on tribal drums and dancing erotically. This was during the end of the Bush mark I years, and Bill Bennett was the Sec. of Education. He had a hit list of the top three druggie schools and WES was in the top three. As I recall, the labeling of WES as a top drug school made the national news. The feds declared that unless WES got in line w/ the drug policy of the feds, the school would loose fed grant $$. To appease the feds, many narcs were on hand for the final smoke out.

    From what I learned, the MOCON smoke out was a nearly 3 decades long tradition of hippie types smoking obscene amounts of pot out in the open in MOCON along w/ tribal drumming and chanting and all sorts of ’60s wannabe ethos. This was my first time ever ingesting pot smoke, albeit inadvertently. There was no way to avoid it, the entire building was inundated w/ pot smoke. I just wanted a hamburger but I got a big old buzz.

    But, because the “man” had it in for good old WES, there were several narcs at the scene on this last smoke out. Although there was probably 100s of people getting high that day, the narcs only busted one unfortunate woman. She was taken away in handcuffs to the utter disbelief of the hordes of hippies on hand that fateful day. This arrest put a solemn end to the storied tradition of the MOCON smoke out.

    Certainly, I’m not the only one to remember the smoke outs? Come on class of ’93! This was one of the most weird/odd/unbelievable/fantastic/bizarre moments of my time at WES. I can’t be the only one to remember this fascinating collision between authority and the forces of progress & change? It really felt like the ’60s were repeating themselves in the ’90s. The smoke outs, the shooting of machine guns at the president’s office, the fire bombing of the pres’ office, radicals placing a shot gun shell on the podium of the president elect in the midst of his inauguration, etc. This all really happened. Truth really is stranger than fiction, and we were there to witness it.

  5. DJ M

    Hi from the class of ’93. Does no one remember the MOCON smoke outs?

    I was an unwitting participant of the very last smoke out in ’89/’90, my frosh year. I went to good old MOCON for lunch, but was unexpectedly hit in the face w/ a wave of pot smoke & partially clad hippies in loin cloths beating on tribal drums and dancing erotically. This was during the end of the Bush mark I years, and Bill Bennett was the Sec. of Education. He had a hit list of the top three druggie schools and WES was in the top three. As I recall, the labeling of WES as a top drug school made the national news. The feds declared that unless WES got in line w/ the drug policy of the feds, the school would loose fed grant $$. To appease the feds, many narcs were on hand for the final smoke out.

    From what I learned, the MOCON smoke out was a nearly 3 decades long tradition of hippie types smoking obscene amounts of pot out in the open in MOCON along w/ tribal drumming and chanting and all sorts of ’60s wannabe ethos. This was my first time ever ingesting pot smoke, albeit inadvertently. There was no way to avoid it, the entire building was inundated w/ pot smoke. I just wanted a hamburger but I got a big old buzz.

    But, because the “man” had it in for good old WES, there were several narcs at the scene on this last smoke out. Although there was probably 100s of people getting high that day, the narcs only busted one unfortunate woman. She was taken away in handcuffs to the utter disbelief of the hordes of hippies on hand that fateful day. This arrest put a solemn end to the storied tradition of the MOCON smoke out.

    Certainly, I’m not the only one to remember the smoke outs? Come on class of ’93! This was one of the most weird/odd/unbelievable/fantastic/bizarre moments of my time at WES. I can’t be the only one to remember this fascinating collision between authority and the forces of progress & change? It really felt like the ’60s were repeating themselves in the ’90s. The smoke outs, the shooting of machine guns at the president’s office, the fire bombing of the pres’ office, radicals placing a shot gun shell on the podium of the president elect in the midst of his inauguration, etc. This all really happened. Truth really is stranger than fiction, and we were there to witness it.

  6. paul - from the dawn of time - '87!

    Ok, I thought Usdan was just unfortunate looking but possibly functional… then I saw a reference to the Fauver residences. I had not seen those.

    Fellow Alums – DO NOT GOOGLE THEM – You cannot UNsee things! – Tragic –

    Henry Bacon is clawing at his casket lid.

  7. paul - from the dawn of time -

    Ok, I thought Usdan was just unfortunate looking but possibly functional… then I saw a reference to the Fauver residences. I had not seen those.

    Fellow Alums – DO NOT GOOGLE THEM – You cannot UNsee things! – Tragic –

    Henry Bacon is clawing at his casket lid.

  8. Noa

    Hail MoCon. <3 Let it graduate with us!
    Something needs to be done!
    Truth! Justice! Demolition!
    Another edition of mocon t-shirts?

    xoxoxoxoxoxxoxoxoxox!

  9. 2012

    It’s a pretty ugly building, just like all the Foss Hill residence halls. I say knock it down, allow it to become a “natural” hillside and don’t ever build there again. Let’s hold the administration to their word on that.

  10. 2012

    It’s a pretty ugly building, just like all the Foss Hill residence halls. I say knock it down, allow it to become a “natural” hillside and don’t ever build there again. Let’s hold the administration to their word on that.

  11. Lloyd Komesar '74

    Clearly, the benign neglect strategy has worked. The litany of damage that you offer here suggests how high the bar has been set to do anything other than demolish this sacred space, this exalted temple of nostalgia. With no Mocon plan in place at the opening of Usdan and nothing of consequence developed since, the University had no true motivation to do anything but wait until the case for tear down was airtight.

    For some time, I advocated on behalf of Mocon as the logical space for the nexus of WESU and The Argus, a living, breathing accessible home for student run media. I was told several times that it would take $10 million to fashion a viable space, that this kind of money would be better spent elsewhere and that fundraising for such an effort would be misguided. Never mind that WESU remains a distant outpost much removed from the heart of campus, unlike other college stations that are nurtured and given their proper place. Since its exile from Clark Hall, things have just never been the same for one of Wesleyan’s best calling cards.

    So, with technicolor memories of Mocon ever present from 1970 through the great Bnei Mitzvah party in April 2005, I will let go and wish the birds well as they hover over this once dazzling building. They should just realize, in their soaring abandon, that The Youngbloods once played with the same soaring abandon right below their wings.

  12. Lloyd Komesar '74

    Clearly, the benign neglect strategy has worked. The litany of damage that you offer here suggests how high the bar has been set to do anything other than demolish this sacred space, this exalted temple of nostalgia. With no Mocon plan in place at the opening of Usdan and nothing of consequence developed since, the University had no true motivation to do anything but wait until the case for tear down was airtight.

    For some time, I advocated on behalf of Mocon as the logical space for the nexus of WESU and The Argus, a living, breathing accessible home for student run media. I was told several times that it would take $10 million to fashion a viable space, that this kind of money would be better spent elsewhere and that fundraising for such an effort would be misguided. Never mind that WESU remains a distant outpost much removed from the heart of campus, unlike other college stations that are nurtured and given their proper place. Since its exile from Clark Hall, things have just never been the same for one of Wesleyan’s best calling cards.

    So, with technicolor memories of Mocon ever present from 1970 through the great Bnei Mitzvah party in April 2005, I will let go and wish the birds well as they hover over this once dazzling building. They should just realize, in their soaring abandon, that The Youngbloods once played with the same soaring abandon right below their wings.

  13. 2009

    joyce topshe is a bitch.

    also, I wholeheartedly agree that recent architecture at wes has been atrocious. Considering Fauver and Usdan were built at an open-minded school like Wesleyan, I don’t think they could be more uninspired. We need a master architect with some balls, please.

  14. 2009

    joyce topshe is a bitch.

    also, I wholeheartedly agree that recent architecture at wes has been atrocious. Considering Fauver and Usdan were built at an open-minded school like Wesleyan, I don’t think they could be more uninspired. We need a master architect with some balls, please.

  15. Braille

    Park airstream trailers inside, in a rough half circle. Weld scaffolding. Stack more airstream trailers. Treehouse FTW.
    alternately, who cares? just remove the bottom layer of windows, turn the power off and let kids skate in it. Oh, I know, liability insurance.

  16. johnwesley

    I think instead of fighting the demolition of one building, we should try to arrive at some broad consensus on what should take it’s place. For example, I think most people would agree, that whatever structure is built there in the future should incorporate the name McConaughy into its official designation.

    Secondly, as others have suggested, its relationship to the hill should be a core architectural value. That would automatically eliminate the Fauver Field residence halls as reference points, for the simple reason that colonial-era buildings weren’t designed to sit on the edge of a cliff (on a hill, maybe, but, considering the size of McConaughy’s present paw print, some overhang is necessary, even desirable, for dramatic effect.)

    In fact, why think small about this? I’ve seen architectural renderings of buildings that actually straddled Vine Street, thus extending access to the parking lots and beyond them to the athletic fields. A McConaughy namesake would be an excellent place from which to construct something like that.

  17. johnwesley

    I think instead of fighting the demolition of one building, we should try to arrive at some broad consensus on what should take it’s place. For example, I think most people would agree, that whatever structure is built there in the future should incorporate the name McConaughy into its official designation.

    Secondly, as others have suggested, its relationship to the hill should be a core architectural value. That would automatically eliminate the Fauver Field residence halls as reference points, for the simple reason that colonial-era buildings weren’t designed to sit on the edge of a cliff (on a hill, maybe, but, considering the size of McConaughy’s present paw print, some overhang is necessary, even desirable, for dramatic effect.)

    In fact, why think small about this? I’ve seen architectural renderings of buildings that actually straddled Vine Street, thus extending access to the parking lots and beyond them to the athletic fields. A McConaughy namesake would be an excellent place from which to construct something like that.

  18. Brian J. Glenn '91

    None of this answers the question of how much it is going to cost to fill in the building space with landfill.

    In any event, decisions about buildings should be based on more than just money. Buildings are for generations, not just the next couple of years, and $7.4 million for an institution like Wesleyan really is not all that large an amount–even while acknowledging that the university is *currently* running a large deficit.

    Moreover, we should not lose sight of the fact that the university has NOT asked stakeholders for funds for this project.

    This is an architecturally important building, and I have to warn the current generation of Wesleyan students, if you reduce everything to money, then no important buildings will be preserved, because that is always the argument used against preservationists.

  19. Brian J. Glenn '91

    None of this answers the question of how much it is going to cost to fill in the building space with landfill.

    In any event, decisions about buildings should be based on more than just money. Buildings are for generations, not just the next couple of years, and $7.4 million for an institution like Wesleyan really is not all that large an amount–even while acknowledging that the university is *currently* running a large deficit.

    Moreover, we should not lose sight of the fact that the university has NOT asked stakeholders for funds for this project.

    This is an architecturally important building, and I have to warn the current generation of Wesleyan students, if you reduce everything to money, then no important buildings will be preserved, because that is always the argument used against preservationists.

  20. Sam

    I resent the fact that their list of damage since 2007 is one of their reasons for demolition. If money spent on “maintenance” was actually doing something, then the building wouldn’t have these new problems.

    And what about a cost estimate for an art museum? Once upon a time, in his first semester as president, Michael Roth vetoed the idea of building an art museum to display Wesleyan’s fantastic art collection, most of which is tragically sitting in storage. An art museum is something that I think Wesleyan legitimately needs, and an area where we are constantly outdone by some peer institutions. Mocon, being something of an architectural work of art itself, would be perfect for a Wesleyan art museum. And if I had to guess I’d say renovating Mocon would be more cost-effective than building a new art museum from scratch.

    http://wesleyanargus.com/2008/02/29/art-sits-in-vault-after-museum-scrapped/

  21. Sam

    I resent the fact that their list of damage since 2007 is one of their reasons for demolition. If money spent on “maintenance” was actually doing something, then the building wouldn’t have these new problems.

    And what about a cost estimate for an art museum? Once upon a time, in his first semester as president, Michael Roth vetoed the idea of building an art museum to display Wesleyan’s fantastic art collection, most of which is tragically sitting in storage. An art museum is something that I think Wesleyan legitimately needs, and an area where we are constantly outdone by some peer institutions. Mocon, being something of an architectural work of art itself, would be perfect for a Wesleyan art museum. And if I had to guess I’d say renovating Mocon would be more cost-effective than building a new art museum from scratch.

    http://wesleyanargus.com/2008/02/29/art-sits-in-vault-after-museum-scrapped/

  22. not johnwesley

    @senior – the building’s relationship to the hill is considered one of its core architectural merits. which is exactly why you’re right that the site would not be conducive to another building. either keep mocon, or build some shitty mini-Fauver that has absolutely no relationship to its surroundings

    from an architectural perspective, the Bennet-Roth period has been a total disaster for Wesleyan

  23. not johnwesley

    @senior – the building’s relationship to the hill is considered one of its core architectural merits. which is exactly why you’re right that the site would not be conducive to another building. either keep mocon, or build some shitty mini-Fauver that has absolutely no relationship to its surroundings

    from an architectural perspective, the Bennet-Roth period has been a total disaster for Wesleyan

  24. 2008

    @”just put some couches in there”
    and make it a treehouse? did you not read the article?

    do you understand that the list of HVAC problems makes the space dangerous to your health?

    do you understand that mocon, if kept, will bleed energy and money?

    i don’t get it. you young kids barely used mocon. also, for the most part it sucked. the best part was the curved windows’ panopticon effect and the fact that it was pretty easy to get drunk in there.

    the cheapest option is to knock it down. i’d rather lose it than student space, student funding, faculty and/or interdisciplinary and certificate programs. Given this shitstorm economy, you’d hope that smart people would be able to reason the university’s priorities before starting a temper tantrum about nostalgia…

  25. 2008

    @”just put some couches in there”
    and make it a treehouse? did you not read the article?

    do you understand that the list of HVAC problems makes the space dangerous to your health?

    do you understand that mocon, if kept, will bleed energy and money?

    i don’t get it. you young kids barely used mocon. also, for the most part it sucked. the best part was the curved windows’ panopticon effect and the fact that it was pretty easy to get drunk in there.

    the cheapest option is to knock it down. i’d rather lose it than student space, student funding, faculty and/or interdisciplinary and certificate programs. Given this shitstorm economy, you’d hope that smart people would be able to reason the university’s priorities before starting a temper tantrum about nostalgia…

  26. Xue

    The Man, The Legend, The Mocon’s grandson has posted this comment in reply to the article:

    In spite of the many tributes and reminiscences, the truth is that building has not marshaled the stakeholders to rescue it from demolition. The building does not have a champion who can present a persuasive argument of logic or passion to a group whose mind has been made up for some time. Apparently, in spite of what seems obvious to alumni, no trustee, administrator, professor or accomplished graduate stepped up with the vision to make this building part of Wesleyan’s future.

    The building fell out of graces with the master, whose plan for some time has not included its name or its place on the map. They simply decided take it apart, bit by bit, several years ago and there was no one to stop them. The voice that the trustees have heard and listened to is that the building had to go. Was this inevitable? Was this just another example of buildings from the 1960’s that haven’t been adaptable to the 21st century? So many poorly designed buildings from that era, both public and private, have seen the wrecking ball, and many would agree rightfully so, in spite of the apparent waste. But was the building they used to call McConaughy Hall in that category? Poor design, too expensive to operate and maintain, just not “worth it” anymore?

    Put its beauty and unique design, its history, and its great versatility and adaptability which lent itself to be used for so many different special occasions, up against the needs of the university to run the place like a business, and the building just doesn’t know what to say. It cannot make the case. It has no one to make the case for it. It has no advocate in that court. It just thought that it was part of Wesleyan, like Shanklin, Fiske, Olin. It felt loved and appreciated. It felt useful. It felt that it contributed to the unique personal and group experiences that defined what Wesleyan was. It was given a glorious dedication. Famous people spoke and performed there. It didn’t think that it would have to defend itself. It carefully fit into the Foss Hill plan and contributed to the quality of the Wesleyan experience for thousands. It helped to build bridges with the community. Was it not safe to think that as it aged, it would continue to contribute and to be cared for? That if you added up all the concerts, special events, memories and experiences, it had proven its value? Apparently not. Maybe it was because the building was on the edge of the campus. Or maybe it started with the name.

    It had a perfectly good name, christened it the memory of a former president who brought Wesleyan through the depression and kept her strong, paying great attention to freedom of expression by the faculty while nurturing alumni support. Over the years, this four syllable surname was too formal or too long or too something and a silly nickname was informally adopted by the next generation. The nickname stuck and soon it was adopted officially, such to the extent that the above Argus article felt no need to put the fictitious name of “MoConaughy” in quotes, either copying what they had received from the Vice President’s office or not realizing what the actual name of the building was.

    So, whether it was its geographical location, or the quality of the food, or the high B&G maintenance costs, or those above average electrical bills from Connecticut Light and Power, or the “unit cost” presentations from the committee assigned to such things, somewhere along the line, and probably some time ago, McConaughy Hall fell out of favor with the trustees, and the more recent individual voices of the alumni have not been loud enough to get their attention. Too little too late.

    In researching the life of my grandfather and the contributions he made to Wesleyan (president), Connecticut (governor) and the country (he took a leave of absence during the war to become head of United China Relief and then Deputy Director of the O.S.S.), I have come to have a much better understanding of the man I have no memory of meeting (he died a year and a half after I was born). The family was greatly honored to have this building named after him in the 60’s because it validated the appreciation of the university to the 18 years he gave it. It is, of course, a great personal loss for the family to see this building dismantled and its value discounted. But more importantly, in losing the building that meant so much to people who never even knew my grandfather (or knew what his name was), I am wondering if Wesleyan has made a miscalculation of what some of its assets are really worth.

    Jim McConaughy, ’68, M.A. ’74

  27. Xue

    The Man, The Legend, The Mocon’s grandson has posted this comment in reply to the article:

    In spite of the many tributes and reminiscences, the truth is that building has not marshaled the stakeholders to rescue it from demolition. The building does not have a champion who can present a persuasive argument of logic or passion to a group whose mind has been made up for some time. Apparently, in spite of what seems obvious to alumni, no trustee, administrator, professor or accomplished graduate stepped up with the vision to make this building part of Wesleyan’s future.

    The building fell out of graces with the master, whose plan for some time has not included its name or its place on the map. They simply decided take it apart, bit by bit, several years ago and there was no one to stop them. The voice that the trustees have heard and listened to is that the building had to go. Was this inevitable? Was this just another example of buildings from the 1960’s that haven’t been adaptable to the 21st century? So many poorly designed buildings from that era, both public and private, have seen the wrecking ball, and many would agree rightfully so, in spite of the apparent waste. But was the building they used to call McConaughy Hall in that category? Poor design, too expensive to operate and maintain, just not “worth it” anymore?

    Put its beauty and unique design, its history, and its great versatility and adaptability which lent itself to be used for so many different special occasions, up against the needs of the university to run the place like a business, and the building just doesn’t know what to say. It cannot make the case. It has no one to make the case for it. It has no advocate in that court. It just thought that it was part of Wesleyan, like Shanklin, Fiske, Olin. It felt loved and appreciated. It felt useful. It felt that it contributed to the unique personal and group experiences that defined what Wesleyan was. It was given a glorious dedication. Famous people spoke and performed there. It didn’t think that it would have to defend itself. It carefully fit into the Foss Hill plan and contributed to the quality of the Wesleyan experience for thousands. It helped to build bridges with the community. Was it not safe to think that as it aged, it would continue to contribute and to be cared for? That if you added up all the concerts, special events, memories and experiences, it had proven its value? Apparently not. Maybe it was because the building was on the edge of the campus. Or maybe it started with the name.

    It had a perfectly good name, christened it the memory of a former president who brought Wesleyan through the depression and kept her strong, paying great attention to freedom of expression by the faculty while nurturing alumni support. Over the years, this four syllable surname was too formal or too long or too something and a silly nickname was informally adopted by the next generation. The nickname stuck and soon it was adopted officially, such to the extent that the above Argus article felt no need to put the fictitious name of “MoConaughy” in quotes, either copying what they had received from the Vice President’s office or not realizing what the actual name of the building was.

    So, whether it was its geographical location, or the quality of the food, or the high B&G maintenance costs, or those above average electrical bills from Connecticut Light and Power, or the “unit cost” presentations from the committee assigned to such things, somewhere along the line, and probably some time ago, McConaughy Hall fell out of favor with the trustees, and the more recent individual voices of the alumni have not been loud enough to get their attention. Too little too late.

    In researching the life of my grandfather and the contributions he made to Wesleyan (president), Connecticut (governor) and the country (he took a leave of absence during the war to become head of United China Relief and then Deputy Director of the O.S.S.), I have come to have a much better understanding of the man I have no memory of meeting (he died a year and a half after I was born). The family was greatly honored to have this building named after him in the 60’s because it validated the appreciation of the university to the 18 years he gave it. It is, of course, a great personal loss for the family to see this building dismantled and its value discounted. But more importantly, in losing the building that meant so much to people who never even knew my grandfather (or knew what his name was), I am wondering if Wesleyan has made a miscalculation of what some of its assets are really worth.

    Jim McConaughy, ’68, M.A. ’74

  28. johnwesley

    @Senior

    The administration has certainly not “tried everything.” They have not tried at all, and if they did, they could easily find a new use for that building, which is a really neat space in a really neat location.

    Joyce Topshe has made it very clear they intend to build a residence hall there at some point in the future. Rubacha was just blowing smoke.

    It is also going to be difficult to let it grow back into the hillside, because there is no hillside there. That building goes all the way down to Vine Street, and filling that in will cost a fortune.

    The simple reality is that they want the building gone and have made no efforts whatsoever to save it.

  29. johnwesley

    @Senior

    The administration has certainly not “tried everything.” They have not tried at all, and if they did, they could easily find a new use for that building, which is a really neat space in a really neat location.

    Joyce Topshe has made it very clear they intend to build a residence hall there at some point in the future. Rubacha was just blowing smoke.

    It is also going to be difficult to let it grow back into the hillside, because there is no hillside there. That building goes all the way down to Vine Street, and filling that in will cost a fortune.

    The simple reality is that they want the building gone and have made no efforts whatsoever to save it.

  30. senior

    the building sits on a hill. the site isn’t really conducive to another building, I think they should knock it down and just let it grow back into hillside, like Rubacha said. Having a one time event isnt going to work, because the building isnt up to code. the admin has tried everything, and mocon just isnt meant to be anymore. I have great memories, and I’ll be sad to see it go, but all good things must come to an end. fitting that it goes with us, the last class to use it.

  31. senior

    the building sits on a hill. the site isn’t really conducive to another building, I think they should knock it down and just let it grow back into hillside, like Rubacha said. Having a one time event isnt going to work, because the building isnt up to code. the admin has tried everything, and mocon just isnt meant to be anymore. I have great memories, and I’ll be sad to see it go, but all good things must come to an end. fitting that it goes with us, the last class to use it.

  32. 2013

    I dont buy it. There is no way in hell the university doesn’t already have plans or ideas of what they wanna put in Mocon’s place the minute they get the money. And you can be sure that whatever they do put there will be an architecturally up-to-date, LEED certified, state-of-the-arts facility that they can boast and show off to the world. What is the likelihood that will have a price tag under several million dollars? Save the money. Let it sit for now and renovate Mocon when the money is there, its that simple. 2-4 million dollars is a LOT of money, but is really is THAT much in terms of what projects like that cost. Mocon has a lot of potential and they can take advantage of that if they give it some time to have a good idea of how to use the space and until there is the money to do it. What’s the rush? Besides, it will be more impressive to have a renovated mid-century building than just another new one. That my two and a half cents…

  33. 2013

    I dont buy it. There is no way in hell the university doesn’t already have plans or ideas of what they wanna put in Mocon’s place the minute they get the money. And you can be sure that whatever they do put there will be an architecturally up-to-date, LEED certified, state-of-the-arts facility that they can boast and show off to the world. What is the likelihood that will have a price tag under several million dollars? Save the money. Let it sit for now and renovate Mocon when the money is there, its that simple. 2-4 million dollars is a LOT of money, but is really is THAT much in terms of what projects like that cost. Mocon has a lot of potential and they can take advantage of that if they give it some time to have a good idea of how to use the space and until there is the money to do it. What’s the rush? Besides, it will be more impressive to have a renovated mid-century building than just another new one. That my two and a half cents…

  34. 2012

    I totally agree! If it costs less then why not? It would be great to have it as a student space again not just sitting there and DEFINITELY not just gone.
    I think we need alumni support on this though. They need to speak out to the administration as much as we here at Wes do.

  35. 2012

    I totally agree! If it costs less then why not? It would be great to have it as a student space again not just sitting there and DEFINITELY not just gone.
    I think we need alumni support on this though. They need to speak out to the administration as much as we here at Wes do.

  36. Anon

    I absolutely understand the need for Environmental abatement, but I think we should just clean mocon
    and put a whole bunch of couches there
    and let it be a general hang out space/study space.
    The Usdan Center is cold, and not a good place to hang out when it isn’t meal times. There doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a place to sit with friends and run into people you like.

    The money spent on the non-abatement parts of the demolition plan can easily be spent on getting a few couches and tables.

    I’m certain there will be some left over to pay heating costs for a few years and the increase in quality of student life is worth the cost.

  37. Anon

    I absolutely understand the need for Environmental abatement, but I think we should just clean mocon
    and put a whole bunch of couches there
    and let it be a general hang out space/study space.
    The Usdan Center is cold, and not a good place to hang out when it isn’t meal times. There doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a place to sit with friends and run into people you like.

    The money spent on the non-abatement parts of the demolition plan can easily be spent on getting a few couches and tables.

    I’m certain there will be some left over to pay heating costs for a few years and the increase in quality of student life is worth the cost.

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