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How does the Hampshire campus come to have a yurt? The answer lies in the imagination of a group of Hampshire students. This project, student-initiated, student-designed and student-constructed, originated in 1993 as a group independent study project. The goals of the project were to "explore the processes of experiential education, community building and the influences of architectural space on education." (Project Notebook)
Writing to potential donors, the group said, "Our purpose in choosing a round, wood structure is to provide an aesthetically pleasing meeting space that can't easily be broken down into distinct or hierarchical sections..." In order to make this dream a reality, the group tackled not only architectural design, but fund-raising, negotiation with the college administration, obtaining building permits, and, finally, construction. The construction itself was a challenge: since the Yurt is round, there are very few right angles in the building. Many members of the community--students, faculty, staff, departments (including Physical Plant, of course), and businesses from the wider community contributed time, work, money and in-kind gifts to make the project a success.
The Yurt was completed in 1998 and is open to any member of the Hampshire community. Currently, it houses the on-campus radio station. It is located in the wooded area between Franklin Patterson Hall and Cole Science Center. If you have never been in there, take a look--it is beautiful, and a wonderful example of student initiative and community building.