Sarah Lawrence College broke ground on the construction of a $35 million Campus Center, named in honor of esteemed alumna Barbara Walters who donated the lead gift of $15 million for the construction of the donor-funded building. The Center will include the Barbara Walters Gallery for exhibitions of fine art and the Barbara Walters Archives and Reading Room.
The environmentally-friendly 34,800-square-foot center, designed by KSS Architects, will serve as a gathering place for students, faculty, and staff with lounges, dining, and event facilities. The enhanced event space will also enable the College to offer more opportunities to welcome members of the local community to campus. The Center is expected to open in the fall of 2019.
At the ceremony marking the start of construction, President Cristle Collins Judd said that the new Center will be a dedicated nexus for social, curricular, and co-curricular engagement. “The crossroads of Kimball Avenue and Glen Washington Road will now act as our ‘front door,’ presenting a welcoming face to the world and…the possibility of a deeper sense of engagement within the College and for our College with our surrounding community. This Center will create a civic space and a cultural anchor at a time when we, as a society, face a pressing need for opportunities to foster open conversation, to foster listening, to create and forge bonds of community.”
Judd publicly thanked alumna Barbara Walters, who could not join the groundbreaking festivities, for her gift that allowed the Center to become the central plank of the College’s fundraising campaign. She relayed a message from her: “…this is a very exciting time not just for the College but for the community. We can look ahead to a place of study, contemplation, and socializing that will be a focus that the College has not had before…”
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said that he is “proud of the ongoing partnership with Sarah Lawrence,” pointing to a number of recent collaborations. “The Barbara Walters Campus Center is an extension of our growing partnership. It is very fitting this center will be named in honor of one of the College’s most famous graduates. Throughout her career, Barbara Walters engaged her audiences with in-depth and insightful interviews. She connected us. This building…will serve as a center for engagement and connect our communities. It will be a place where people can gather, unite, and make a difference.”
Claiming Sarah Lawrence as Bronxville’s own too (the College is located in Yonkers but with a Bronxville postal address), Mayor Mary Marvin said that “Sarah Lawrence has been for us in Bronxville a beacon for intellectual and cultural life in our community. With the increased capacity for presenting and hosting public events, the Barbara Walters Campus Center will make the College, I believe, even more of a local treasure…[that] will build on the long and historic relationship between Sarah Lawrence and Bronxville. I know it will provide opportunities for the young and not so young from the College and Yonkers, Bronxville, and surrounding communities to engage more with each other and I hope to be a stronger, more robust bridge between town and gown, Bronxville and Yonkers.
Other speakers included Chair of the Board of Trustees Mark Goodman and students Kendal Flowerdew ’19 and Christina Tanzola MA ’19. Concluding the program was a ceremonial groundbreaking with all the speakers as well as Assemblymember Shelley Mayer, City Council members Michael Sabatino and Mike Breen, Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins, Yonkers Commissioner of Planning and Development Wilson Kimball, County Legislator David Tubiolo, and former City Council President Chuck Lesnick representing Governor Andrew Cuomo.