Breaking ground at Bj”rklunden starts today

Radhika Garland

Lawrence’s Bj”rklunden lodge will undergo a facelift starting Friday, Oct. 6 to meet the expectations of a growing community that includes both Lawrence University and the residents of Door County.
The new addition represents a coordinated effort by Lawrence faculty to enhance the students’ learning experiences. Inadvertently, it has also been a means of bringing the Lawrence Trustees closer together, as its costs have soared past the $4 million mark.
This afternoon at 4 p.m. the opening festivities for the Bj”rklunden addition will commence. At the ceremony, representatives of Lawrence University and the steering committee – coordinators of the fundraising campaign – will be present.
Robert Schaupp, who is a 1951 Lawrence graduate and the president of a profitable investment company, will preside. He is also a member of the college’s Board of Trustees, and had faithfully chaired the campaign for the new wing.
The campaign began two years ago when faculty first brought up the need for larger and more diverse facilities to accommodate every student group or academic department. Fundraising began later that year.
Since that time, a combination of Bj”rklunden enthusiasts, Trustees, and an equally significant number of Door County residents have contributed more than $4 million toward the renovation.
Even so, the entire cost of the project has not yet been raised. Mark Breseman, Bj”rklunden’s director, reported, “Even though construction has started we still want to achieve the $5 million goal, so active fundraising continues.”
Lawrence received Bj”rklunden as a donation from Winifred and Donald Boynton in order to preserve the spirit of “peace and contemplativeness.” Thanks to groups such as the Boynton Society, its financial and fundraising bulwark, Bj”rklunden’s mile-long coast and 425 acres of land have remained in good condition.
Door County residents have also been invited to share the facilities and contribute to maintenance. It has been home to adult education programs since 1960.
The addition was designed by George Matthies of Miller Wagner Coenen McMahon, Inc., a Neenah-based architectural firm. The same firm and architect designed the original lodge in 1995.
Says Breseman, The McMahon group “has done much exemplary work for Lawrence . We were most happy with their efforts [in 1995] and are pleased that the same architect has designed the new addition.”
There are many features of the new facility that the Lawrence community can look forward to. Approximately 20,000 square feet will be added to the south end of the lodge, including 10 new bedrooms with luxurious lake views. Practically speaking, the 10-room increase will nearly double sleeping capacity from the current 54 students to 104.
There will also be a multipurpose room, another seminar room, a computer room, a mudroom for the science department and an observation deck. Lesser additions include bathrooms, increased storage areas and more parking.
Designs and construction have been planned with the surroundings in mind. Breseman says, “We have taken great pains to limit any negative environmental effects of this project.”
He adds that plans for the parking lot were specially made to preserve as many trees as possible and that rain gardens will be used to control storm water runoff on the building site.
It is said that a Lawrence student should have the opportunity to visit Bj”rklunden at least once during his or her course of study here. In reality, more than 1,300 students and faculty attended 30 separate weekend programs at Bj”rklunden during the 2005-06 year.
In addition, from April to October there were 27 weeklong classes that boasted a total of around 500 participants.
Door County residents and private organizations also use Bj”rklunden regularly, including the celebrated Door Shakespeare troupe which regularly performs there during July and August.
Construction is expected to be finished by June 1, 2007. Meanwhile, it should have no effect upon student groups who are planned to visit during construction.