Information, Technology & Consulting

Computing Services Moves to Four Currier Place


It’s well known that tech giants Google and Facebook implement sleek office design and open structures to encourage creativity and collaboration among employees. Now, Dartmouth Computing Services follows this trend with a new location in Hanover’s Four Currier Place that features wall-less work spaces, bright colors, and smart meeting rooms.

For more than ten years, Computing Services staff occupied Dartmouth’s Dewey Field Road building and Berry Library, but practical considerations prompted a change in early 2013. Dana Biomedical Library needed a new location close to other science buildings northeast of campus and Berry Library planned to expand its special collections storage close to the service desk in its basement. Because Computing Services didn’t need a central campus location, the department could move to Four Currier Place on the outskirts of campus and closer to downtown Hanover.Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Ellen Waite-Franzen saw the change as an opportunity:

“Our space in lower level Berry, affectionately called ‘the dungeon,’ was much better suited for library materials than for people,” she says. Waite-Franzen adds that the outcome—moving staff from Dewey Field Road and the Berry basement—has had a positive result: “bringing together people who previously had been in different locations provides an atmosphere for enhanced communication, collaboration and organizational awareness,” she says.

Waite-Franzen and Chief Technology Officer Joe Doucet’s management team planned the move to Four Currier's second floor. Additionally, Administrative Assistant Traci Ladue was "indispensable in getting all of the logistics done," Waite-Franzen says.

In January 2013, 75 Computing Service employees from Institutional Information Systems and Services moved to the new building, which is also home to Dartmouth Real Estate; Campus Planning and Design; and Montpelier Technical Resources, a local business. In the coming months, staff from the Web Services group in Dewey Field, Network and Security groups in the Berry “dungeon,” and administration on the Berry Library’s first floor space will also move to Four Currier Place.

Associate Director of Infrastructure Services Ty Peavey, who works on Doucet’s management team, explained that the workspace was carefully planned and much consideration went into the design of the individual work spaces and meeting rooms. Peavey: “Since technology work is so collaborative, the organizing team planned many different types of meeting rooms, from small, two-person rooms to a very large conference room.”

Although the move created unity, it also raised some eyebrows when employees accustomed to individual offices in their former works paces had to adjust to an open space.

“Initially, there was a fair amount of concern and frustration,” Peavey says. However, after a recent poll he conducted with his group, he reports: “Most of them indicated they enjoy the new space and would not move back."

Project Lead/Senior Business Analyst Janet St. Martin is happy with the new location: “The open floor plan really helps me do my job of collaborating and communicating with different people," she says. "I also like the nice conference rooms, bright colors, new kitchens, great bathrooms, shower—and last, but not least, having a desk that I stand up at. The downtown location is also very handy and the walk to and from Thompson is relaxing.”

Director of Web Services Susan Lee is excited about the change. While her department has been migrating a couple hundred websites into a new technology platform, “we also have our eyes on another upcoming migration,” she says, “when we'll be asked to look through our drawers, clean out our offices, and re-assemble our team across campus in the fresh and modern space that is being newly configured in Four Currier.”

“Design communicates intention,” Lee adds, and for Web Services, “the open studio work stations, a co-working space, bold colors, and textures are a welcome change,” that provide more opportunities for collaboration between people and groups. “Beneath the surface,” Lee says, “the ostensible change in environment is to a space that shortens the distance between people and the technologies they utilize daily.”

Information, Technology & Consulting