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The moat

Topics/tags: Miscellaneous, short

Earlier this semester , I was speaking with a colleague about various things on campus and they asked me if I knew why we had built a moat around the new admissions building [1]. I admitted that I had not been paying much attention to the landscaping at that building [2]. We made some jokes about possible uses, such as defending the administrators from a siege by angry faculty or students. We also chatted a bit about aquascaping that the likely difficulties raised by Iowa Winters?

But it got me wondering. Why would we have a moat, or something that looks like a moat, around a building? And so I asked around. Fortunately, I have colleagues who pay more attention than I do. I turns out that there’s a very good reason to have a moat around admissions. Here’s what I understood.

The new HSSC and the large amount of hard surface that they’ve installed between the HSSC and Noyce will create a lot of water runoff in storms. Rather than shove all of that water into Grinnell’s already over-burdened sewer system, the College decided to install a more environmentally friendly system that allows the water to flow into the earth, with the moat serving as the first holding spot. In particular, I think the drains from the roof of the HSSC lead to the moat.

After a bit of searching, I did find the following note in a page about our campus landscaping

Green Aspects of the Project: Using bioswales (depressions that collect storm water and send it back into the aquifer instead of into storm sewers), prairie-type native plantings that are sustainable in our climate. The master plan for the entire campus will encompass management of storm water runoff.

I’m glad that the College is thinking about such issues. But I still wish they’d let us do all the green aspects of Noyce that the faculty had requested.

Postscript: While I was digging around for more details, I ended up re-reading the short overview of the HSSC project. If you look at the page, you can see what I mean about the amounts of hardscape between the two buildings. You can also see the awkward noun-phrase non-fine arts humanities. Is that really how it should be punctuated? I’m still having trouble getting my mind around non-fine.

[1] I call it The Ski Chalet, but I don’t think that title will stick.

[2] Given that I’m on leave this semester, I should certainly pay attention to as little as possible on campus [3].

[3] I’m failing.

Version 1.0 of 2018-11-23.