Why not renovate the existing Lodge?

For many years the College has been monitoring and attending to the declining conditions of the Lodge, replacing deteriorated logs as needed, shoring up the building in the winter, reinforcing the floor during trips and maintaining old building systems that are at the end of their expected lifespan and should be replaced or upgraded. The bottom line is that a recent feasibility study concluded that the renovation of the existing building, which would need to meet current safety, accessibility and building codes, would result in a structure that would be significantly different from the existing Lodge. The usable space, if the building remained in its current footprint, would have shrunk by more than 30%. The existing programmatic needs cannot be met with less usable space.

In early 2014 Maclay Architects was hired to thoroughly assess the building conditions and to also conduct a feasibility study to determine how the existing program could best be accommodated in either a renovated Lodge or a newly constructed Lodge. The condition assessment highlighted known safety issues and additional areas of structural and operational concern.

How were the cost estimates determined?

The preliminary cost estimate of $12 million for a new building includes both soft (design, permitting, etc.) and hard (actual construction) costs. This estimate, prepared by construction experts, is based on preliminary design work, and as such includes appropriate contingencies. As the design and planning process continues, these professional estimates will become more refined. 
There are a number of factors associated with the new Lodge that will inevitably make it more expensive than a more conventional structure at a different location. These include:

  • The new Lodge is intended to be a long-term asset to Dartmouth, with a functional life of at least 100 years. There is a premium associated with construction of this type of major institutional asset compared to a less durable building.
  • The desire to replicate the aesthetics and appeal of the existing Lodge has led us to a modified heavy timber frame construction, with significant use of log components, as well as stone elements such as the fireplace structure. This type of construction is substantially more expensive than a conventional “stick-framed” building using off-the-shelf materials.
  • Energy efficiency is extremely important, both to reduce operational costs and to promote sustainability. The new building will be super-insulated, which will allow economical heating at minimal levels during winter months (necessary for asset preservation and fire protection) while not requiring on-site storage of large volumes of fossil fuel (fuel delivery during the winter is not possible as the access road is not plowed).
  • The Lodge is a remote site, located 1.3 miles from the main road and many miles from where most workers and material suppliers are located. This complicates logistics and has an incremental impact on overall cost. We are also planning for continuous construction over the winter months, which will require routine plowing and maintenance of the access road.

Will the Lodge be usable in the winter?

The current Lodge is able to operate from April through October. The new Lodge will enable us to extend the operating season from the beginning of the spring term in late March to the end of the fall term in November. Winter activities on Moosilauke are now supported by our new winterized bunkhouses, enabling us to offer instructional programs in snowshoeing, back-country skiing and mountaineering without significantly impacting operational costs. While there are no current plans for winter operation of the Lodge itself, the building design and construction would not preclude that at some point in the future

What will be new and what will be different?

The focus of the Lodge project is to provide an appropriate home for the existing program, not to expand the program, and to maintain the sense of rustic, warm hospitality and connection with Dartmouth outdoor traditions that distinguish the current Lodge.  Features within the new Lodge that will be particularly noticeable include:

  •  Main Floor
      •  A larger area for dining and social activities, anchored by a large stone fireplace.  As with the existing Lodge, this is the heart of the building.  The increase in size will better accommodate use during peak periods (such as First Year Trips), but with a design that maintains the feel of the current Lodge.
      • A larger, more efficient kitchen to facilitate meal preparation by the student crew.
      • Improved bathrooms for use by overnight guests and day-visitors. A small meeting room which can also be used for social activities.
  • Lower Level
      • Higher ceilings than the existing space, with improved natural lighting. 
      • More space for the library and social areas, with better differentiation between the two.
      • A small multi-purpose room than can be used by the crew for project space, for hand-craft workshops, and for hands-on academic and other instructional programs
      • An amply-sized mudroom for muddy boots, raingear, packs, etc.
      • An overnight room for a Lodge crew member/night manager
  • Balcony Level
      • A small loft overlooking the main room providing space for both small gatherings and quiet contemplation.
      • An area for small meetings.
  • Outside
      • Stone terraces for sitting and gathering, including a small tiered seating area centered on a fire pit.
      • A wood-fired pizza/bread oven, and a small greenhouse for growing herbs and salad greens. 
      • An accessible path leading from the parking area along the access road to the main entrance
      • Relocation of the preserved Manager’s Cabin, a log structure built by Ross McKenney
      • Porch areas larger than the existing building, including both screened and open areas.

What is the construction schedule? 

If sufficient funds are raised, and the Trustees approve moving forward at their March 2016 meeting, then construction would commence in September of 2016, immediately following First Year Trips.  The current schedule calls for completing construction in early August of 2017, just prior to the beginning of First Year Trips.  This schedule allows for uninterrupted continuity of the Lodge as an integral feature of Trips, and assures that all incoming students will have Moosilauke as part of their initial Dartmouth experience.  In the event that the project cannot commence in September of 2016, it would likely be delayed to a Fall 2017 start, with delivery in August of 2018.