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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.