Chancellor’s Residence Moving to Centennial Campus

Chancellor’s house will express itself — in Italian

For most of us, our house is our home. But at roughly $3.5 million and 12,300 square feet, the new chancellor’s house at N.C. State University will be a statement.

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8 Responses to Chancellor’s Residence Moving to Centennial Campus

  1. StateFans 05/27/2006 at 9:05 AM #

    Body of article, from N&O:

    For most of us, our house is our home. But at roughly $3.5 million and 12,300 square feet, the new chancellor’s house at N.C. State University will be a statement.

    Trying to decide what that statement should be has nearly tied school leaders into knots.

    Trustees made clear about 18 months ago that they wanted to move the chancellor’s house from Hillsborough Street to a lakeside site on Centennial Campus. But it wasn’t until just a few weeks ago that they agreed on a general design they hope will symbolize the state’s largest university.

    “This isn’t just a house for architects to admire,” said Marvin Malecha, dean of the university’s College of Design and a consultant on the project. “It has to be a house that everyone related to NCSU will be really proud of.”

    Regardless of how the finished home looks, Malecha knows some people won’t like it simply because it can’t replicate the history of the current residence, which was built in 1928.

    The current chancellor’s house is just a short walk to the campus Bell Tower or the main administration building. Over the years, it’s also been a favorite destination when students feel the need to protest.

    That’s less likely to happen at the Centennial Campus site. The house would be tucked in the woods on the southwestern shore of Lake Raleigh, about two miles south of Hillsborough Street.

    But trustees are certain Centennial Campus is where they want to break ground on the new residence in about a year.

    The current house became the chancellor’s home in 1930, coincidentally the year Wonder introduced sliced bread. But unlike the bread, the original purpose of a chancellor’s house has gone stale among many big universities.

    Today, a chancellor’s home is used to gather distinguished guests or wealthy alumni who might be willing to make seven-figure donations.

    The homes don’t need to be palaces, but they are quasi-public buildings with an eye toward fundraising, said Charles Leffler, NCSU vice chancellor for finance and business.

    The change helps explain why schools such as UNC-Wilmington, UNC-Charlotte, Appalachian State University and Duke University have all spent millions in recent years to replace or renovate their own chancellors’ digs.

    Beyond McMansions

    When NCSU learned that renovating the current house would cost at least $2 million and still would leave it inadequate for large groups, trustees figured a new house at $3.5 million would be worth the extra money. Moreover, the money will be raised privately, freeing trustees from some cost constraints.

    But that didn’t really help university leaders when they had to tell architects how the house should look. More than a dozen homes in the Triangle are larger than 12,000 square feet, but they have no public function.

    That left a committee of four trustees, several administrators and some private architects to haggle over original designs.

    “The architects brought us some ideas, but they just looked too futuristic for a chancellor’s house,” said Wendell Murphy, chairman of the NCSU Board of Trustees. “When they left and came back, it seemed as though we were just looking at different versions of the same thing.”

    Struggling to reach a consensus and in danger of falling behind schedule, the trustees were given pictures of various homes. They were then asked to offer individual critiques. To a person, they liked the same kind of house: a traditional, stately mansion much like the kind found sprinkled among higher-priced subdivisions of the Triangle.

    Malecha, an architect by training, knew how many of his colleagues would react.

    “Oh no,” he said in mock despair, “they want a McMansion from North Raleigh!”

    But there is a reason, Malecha explained to the trustees, that people like McMansions — beyond the houses’ implicit statements about an owner’s sense of importance. It has to do with the architectural language of proportions and designs borrowed through the ages.

    “One of the most exciting parts of good architecture to me is that we are having a conversation with our past,” Malecha said. “We can honor good work, carry it forward and incorporate it into something that meets our needs.”

    A history lesson

    In a broad sense, the architecture that made trustees see homes as stately or distinguished can be traced to the 16th century Italian villas of Andrea Palladio. Malecha showed trustees the track of Palladio’s designs in works as varied as Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello or the John Ashe House in Charleston.

    Before long, he found himself spending hours on designs for a chancellor’s house, his weekends filled with site maps, elevation drawings and pictures of houses scattered across time. He was having a conversation with the past.

    It could be a few more months before all the details of that conversation are placed on paper. But the general outlines are clear. The home will include a large outdoor courtyard framed by two long rectangular wings. Tying the two wings together will be a three-story main house with verandas stretching across its front.

    Inside, plans call for a public level, a private residential area and space for two offices — a nod to the very modern needs of 21st century chancellors and their working spouses.

    Only a trained eye is likely to see the lines of a 16th-century Italian villa. No one is likely to think of McMansions. But if the design succeeds, Malecha believes it will be both impressive and inviting. It will be timeless but also an instant NCSU landmark.

    It will make a statement.

  2. tractor57 05/27/2006 at 10:33 AM #

    I just remember Chancellor Caldwell – I bet he wouldn’t approve.

  3. burnbarn 05/27/2006 at 11:05 AM #

    I used to have breakfast at baxley’s with Caldwell from time to time as a freshman. I knew who he was, but never let on i did. We just would talk. It was a very cool relationship.

    That being said, business is different now that when Caldwell was chancellor. Businesses using tools from the 70s in today’s enviroment would not be in business long.

  4. tractor57 05/27/2006 at 11:15 AM #

    so true but at least Chancellor Caldwell took the time to interact with the “common” student (as supported by your interaction). Maybe times have changed but for the better?

  5. StateFans 05/27/2006 at 11:17 AM #

    ^ You mean the one time that Larry Monteith interacted with the students by riding around campus in a wheelchair doesn’t count?

  6. tractor57 05/27/2006 at 12:24 PM #

    I just got the tail end of Chancellor Caldwell’s time but I did also get the chance to meet Chancellor Thomas while at NCSU. He had some of the same views as Chancellor Caldwell.
    I was (and still am) impressed by their interest in what the students thought – I guess it’s different today (so sad).

  7. class of 74 05/27/2006 at 2:00 PM #

    The Larry Monteith era was the most disgraceful period in our history. I’d prefer to forget his tenure if I may.

  8. Pack84 05/29/2006 at 11:18 AM #

    Maybe I’m just old-school. I have no problems with building a new residence as the current one probably has outlived it’s usefulness. And it’s true – I’m not sure where you could put it. But I would just prefer that the chancellor’s home still be on the main campus and not on Centennial Campus.

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