Built on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Eckerd College’s academics, residential program and mission are deeply tied to delivering a high-quality liberal arts education in Florida’s natural environment.
A changing environment
Predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say that sea-level rise is imminent and water will begin to inundate coastal areas over the next 80 years. Eckerd College’s Fourth President, Donald Eastman III, contracted with Sweet Sparkman Architects, SCAPE Landscape Architecture and Progressive Water Resources to start building the framework of what the campus will and community will look like as our environment changes.
That framework is Eckerd 2100.
SCAPE, Sweet Sparkman, Progressive Water Resources Contracted to begin working on Eckerd 2100
Sea level rise projections/study presented to Eckerd leadership and constituency groups for input on college priorities
Eckerd College Executive Staff, select faculty, and select students meet with architects to discuss Eckerd ethos and what community considerations a resilience plan should include
Architects group presents results of study to Eckerd community and solicits feedback on possible solutions
Frequently asked questions about sea level rise at Eckerd
Resilience, in terms of a College, means the campus and community’s ability to continue normal operations in the face of an external threat. For Eckerd College specifically, resilience means the ability to remain in its unique location on Florida’s Gulf Coast–even as sea levels continue to rise.
Models from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predict that coastal waters could rise anywhere from three to 10 feet in the next 80 years. Since much of Eckerd College’s mid-century modern campus was built at sea level, certain parts of the campus may have to be dramatically altered to keep them operational and accessible in the future.
It’s not “if” sea level rises, it is when. This framework plan will use community input to consider all parts of campus and help Eckerd College to begin prioritize which projects are most urgent based on the best available information. Some buildings may be fortified, others could be renovated and still others could be relocated. The framework plan will offer a variety of options for College leadership to consider that will maintain the spirit of the institution while preserving the functionality of the College.
Eckerd College’s fourth president, Donald Eastman III, began looking at and planning for sea level rise with the drafting of the Campus Master Plan in 2004. That plan considered changes in sea level prior to construction of the Armacost Library, James Center for Molecular and Life Sciences, Iota Residence Hall, athletic fields and Nielsen Center for Visual Arts. Significant resources will be needed to reimagine an Eckerd College that fits as harmoniously on Florida’s coastline as it does now. Having a framework in place in 2020, so that future administrations can tackle projects little-by-little will help with the resilience of the College and the financial feasibility of this great undertaking. Eckerd College has the opportunity to be the model for all coastal institutions on what solutions will work to remain in our unique environments.
This plan is just the framework for future administrations and trustees to decide what comes next. Changes will begin when both the parties determine the plans are right, the funds are secure and the time is opportune to begin construction.