North Wind And Sun

New Adirondack Lawn Chairs Help Welcome Spring

Amid sunshine and elevated temperatures, last week Amherst students were presented with the perfect supplement to the pleasant spring weather. Twenty Adirondack chairs, purchased by Physical Plant, were placed at prominent locations throughout the campus last Tuesday. The Freshman Quad, Valentine Quad and the areas near the Keefe Campus Center, Converse Hall and Natural History Museum all feature the wooden lawn chairs.

Responsible for the new sitting spaces is Amherst College Director of Facilities James Brassord. “The idea came to me after a number of campus tours,” Brassord said. “I have seen successful campuses creating community through the outdoors and wanted to bring some of those efforts to Amherst.” Brassord sought, he said, to create memorable spaces through landscape design. Brassord said that he appreciated the informality of the Adirondack chairs, priced at approximately $400 each, and felt that they were a perfect fit for Amherst.

Some faculty initially expressed skepticism about choosing chairs made out of teak wood, concerned that it was unsustainable material. These concerns have since been put to rest; “the Web site of the company, Country Casual, states that the company uses “only ecologically grown and harvested timbers from managed, sustainable forests.” The chairs, according to Country Casual, tout a number of impressive features. Constructed from teak, a durable type of hardwood, the chairs are designed to be weatherproof and resistant to rot, and are certain to withstand even the most inclement New England weather. Left untreated, the chairs will eventually change to a silvery grey color, which will last for decades.

The chairs are not embedded in the ground, and are not difficult to reposition. This, according to Brassord, was no accident. Physical Plant intended to give students the option to transport them to any desired location. “We hope students move the chairs,” said Brassord. “But we would also encourage students to keep the chairs in the same general area [in which they found them].” However, the chairs’ portability does not provide for very secure theft prevention. As of yesterday, two chairs are missing. Brassord hopes that the missing chairs will be returned to their rightful places outside soon. “We need to ensure as a community that they stay put,” he said. “If the chairs are respected by the community, we will expand the program and add more chairs. If they are stolen, however, the program will be discontinued.” Brassord hopes it never comes to that point and hopes that students take advantage of the chairs during the warm spring and summer days. The chairs have been well received by the College community. “I think that they are fabulous,” said Rachel Johnson ’10. “ Having them out there makes the campus so much more inviting. It’s nice not having to bring a blanket when I want to go outside and read and they are especially good for stargazing. I think the school should buy some more.”

(Originally published 20 April 2008 in The Amherst Student)

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