Bjorklunden: bigger, better?

Katy Hillbo

Life at Lawrence can be very enjoyable, but it can also be filled with stress: deadlines, drama, and too many late nights. For many students, Bj”rklunden, Lawrence’s northern campus, provides a much-needed respite from the Appleton campus as well as an engaging and unique place to learn.Recently, Bj”rklunden underwent a major expansion. The people who worked on the project hope that the expansion will help to meet the growing need for more space and will allow more people to experience the benefits that Bj”rklunden has to offer.

Located in scenic Door County, Bj”rklunden was donated by Donald and Winifred Boynton in 1963 with the understanding that it would continue to serve as a “place of peace and contemplation.”

It offers a place for student seminars, summer seminars, research, and internships in a natural setting. Bj”rklunden accommodates several different groups each year, providing a more intimate and relaxing atmosphere for groups in which to bond and learn.

In recent years, however, the staff has had to turn people away due to a lack of space. This past year, work began to solve the space problem by expanding the current structure.

The expansion more than doubled the size of the former structure. The 20,000-square-foot addition includes: 10 bedrooms, two sets of adjoining guest rooms, a computer lab, a mudroom and a seminar room. This will increase the capacity from 54 to 104 people during the school year and from 22 to 44 people in the summer.

All of these new additions are the results of a formally endowed capital campaign called “Extending the Reach: A Campaign for Bj”rklunden.” The campaign was run from 2004 through 2006 and raised $4 million. All of the money was privately funded.

The campaign was started after Greg Volk, Lawrence’s Executive Vice President, and Mark Breseman, the current Bj”rklunden director, saw the need for an expansion at Bj”rklunden.

With the construction of the new campus center and other projects, the two felt that their project would fit with the current goals of the college. According to Breseman, “It was a great opportunity. The timing was right.” The two met with the trustees of the college, President Jill Beck, and the architect. They also received input from people on campus.

Once the planning was finished, the construction began and progressed smoothly. Breseman said that there were really no major obstacles during the construction: “We used the same architect, so they knew what we wanted — and we used the same construction company.” The project was finished in under a year, and the new Bj”rklunden has already been visited by some groups on campus.

Students who have stayed at Bj”rklunden this year have noticed some of the additions. Music education major Tiffany Van Boxtel appreciated the practice rooms, but thought that the best improvement is “having two Great Halls,” because “there’s room for more than one group [to stay at Bj”rklunden at a time].”

Although Van Boxtel worried that the intimate feel of the original structure would be lost, she said that the people who worked on the expansion were able to maintain the authenticity and blend the addition with the older building. “It doesn’t feel like an expansion,” she said.

As Breseman pointed out, Bj”rklunden is really a part of the ‘Lawrence difference.’ “Bj”rklunden sets Lawrence apart [from other universities]…It is a place to get away and to get in touch with nature,” he said. Furthermore, he urged “every student to find a way to come up and experience Bj”rklunden.

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