Idle since its closure in 2007, the former campus dining center MoConaughy Hall (MoCon) has been scheduled for demolition this summer, according to Associate Vice President for Physical Plant Facilities Joyce Topshe. Removal of hazardous material within the building will commence next week.
“As far as I know, no one on the WSA has been formally told of any plans to demolish MoCon this summer,” said Wesleyan Student Assembly Vice President Becky Weiss ’10.
According to Construction Services Project Manager Alan Rubacha, Physical Plant is aware of asbestos present in the building, and potentially other hazardous materials.
“Lots of asbestos is all that we are aware of, perhaps some oil in a transformer or two or mercury in a thermostat,” Rubacha wrote in an e-mail to The Argus.
According to Topshe, when the building first closed due to high cost and a desire for a more central dining facility on campus, there was an expectation that demolition would eventually follow.
Since the Usdan Center has assumed the role of campus center nd main dining hall, MoCon has remained empty, with the exception of the annual student-run Waste Not tag sale hosted in the building at the beginning of the fall semester.
According to both Rubacha and Topshe, the building is no longer viable in its current form, although dozens of potential new uses have been explored including dance, theater, and art studio spaces, student housing, and office space.
“The existing structure has passed its useful life and would require an extraordinary amount of work and resources, to modify,” Rubacha wrote.
Because the original structure was specifically built to function as a dining hall, any reuse of the building would be wasteful and adaptive reuse might even exceed the cost of the construction of a new resident hall.
“The location of MoCon lends itself best to student housing, which is consistent with our masterplan,” Topshe wrote in an e-mail to The Argus. “However, the cost per bed to adapt MoCon to student housing is approximately 50 percent greater than the cost to build new.”
Safety risks are also spurring the demolition of the building according to Director of University Media Relations David Pesci.
“Simply leaving it up in its present condition is not an option either, as it presents a safety risk,” Pesci wrote in an e-mail to The Argus.
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,” 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 for a connection to Vine St.”
Many students and alumni have vocalized their connection with the building.
“We know many alumni have fond recollections of MoCon, and I understand that efforts are in motion to find a suitable way to honor the building, its place in Wesleyan’s history, and the memories it represents,” Pesci wrote.