In my initial post of this series, I introduced my analysis of the data from the survey taken to assess opinions on the direction of revitalization.

 As I said then, I find that this survey is interesting not just for the guidance it provides to the revitalization process, but also for what it reveals about us as a community. How we build out our environment and our residences will help to determine the world we will leave for future residents, and it is obvious from the survey results that we care deeply about that.

In the last post, I discussed 6 of the 13 “closed-ended” (multiple-choice) questions in the survey. This time, I will cover the remaining 7. In the third and final installment of the series, the subject will be the answers to the open-ended questions (“essay questions”), as summarized by Lenhardt Rodgers, the architects.

Question #14: “As we plan for the future it is important for us to consider priorities when planning common spaces. Please choose the most important qualities of Common Spaces (excluding dining areas). Choose up to 3”

I found the wording of this question confusing: it asks about “qualities” of common spaces, but the choices seem to really be “types” of spaces (“spaces my neighbors and I share together”, “where we join for community work”, and five more). Indoor meeting spaces, such as our auditorium, training room, and conference room, are omitted. These are really important “types” of space, but I’d be hard-pressed to characterize their “quality”. The phrase “common spaces” seems to have been intended to be limited to outdoor spaces. (But then, why mention the exclusion of dining areas?)  

For Kendal residents, the most popular choice for this question was “Where we have view and access to natural areas” (61%). That was followed by “Where we walk and/or exercise” (54%) and “Where we gather for nourishment and conversation” (48%).

Crosslands residents had the same top two preferences: “natural areas” (70%) and “walk/exercise” (50%). Their third choice was “Where we relax and enjoy each other” (42%).  

In addition to the “quality” vs. “type” issue, I think this question would have benefited from an “Other” choice (which many other questions had).

Question #15: “What would you consider the most important elements of your residence that you believe should not change? (Choose up to 2)”

On this question, Kendal residents were closer to unanimous than on any other. They preferred “One story living” (81%) and “Connected and covered exterior walkways” (75%). The priorities at Crosslands were mixed. Although they also favored “Connected and covered exterior walkways” (63%), there was a near-tie between “One story living” (49%) and “Having available covered or enclosed parking” (47%). As with the earlier parking-related questions, this difference reflects the fact that Crosslands is more driving-oriented and Kendal is more walking-oriented.

Question #16: “Would multi-story residential buildings be acceptable on your campus?”

More than two-thirds of Kendal residents (70%) opposed multi-story residential buildings. By contrast, the majority of Crosslands residents (58%) would accept multi-story residential buildings. Of course, they are already present at Crosslands.

Question #17: “If yes, how many stories would you suggest?

Only 75 Kendal residents answered this question (which is a large number, given that only 64 had actually answered “yes” to the previous question). The vast majority (75%) chose “2 stories”. Crosslands residents also chose “2 stories” overwhelmingly (83%).

Question #18: “Which of the following potential outdoor features are most preferred? (Choose up to 5)”

Kendal residents preferred “More or improved outdoor seating areas” (61%). This was followed by “Handicapped accessible trails” (55%), “Charging stations for electric cars” (51%), and “Larger or additional outdoor gathering or event spaces” (43%).

The same four items were chosen by Crosslands residents, but in a different order: handicapped-accessible trails (59%), outdoor seating areas (55%), outdoor gathering/event spaces (52%), and charging stations (46%).

Question #19: “What improvements to the system of walkways connecting residential units would you consider to be necessary? (Choose all that apply)”

No single item was chosen by a majority of Kendal residents. The top choices were: “Sufficient width of walkways for multiple uses (walking, wheelchairs, scooters, etc.)” (47%), “Surface treatment and adequate maintenance” (44%), and “Additional covered walkway connections” (37%).

At Crosslands, the top two choices were the same as Kendal’s (53% for wider walkways, 46% for surfaces and maintenance). In third place was “Interconnectedness of the pedestrian walkways” (34%), perhaps reflecting the fact that many Crosslands residents must leave a covered walkway to cross a road at an uncovered crossing (the “Dyer Straits”, near the Dyer building) to get to the Center. Only a small minority of Crosslands residents can walk to the Center using a covered walkway the entire distance.

Question #20: “If new or replacement units are built on the campus, what kind of residences would you suggest? (Choose all that apply)”

Although multiple choices were possible, most Kendal residents chose only one of the three that were available. The top choice, by far, was “Units connected with covered walkway (similar to existing original units)” (83%). “Stand alone duplex units (similar to new units at Kendal at Longwood)” was a distant second (41%), and “Multi-story apartments buildings” was last (12%).

The responses from Crosslands residents were complicated by the fact that there was no exact equivalent to the Kendal question. Instead, three different questions were asked: one about the replacement of the two-story Wolman building, one about the area near the Mott Center, and a general one about “new or replacement units (other than the Mott and Wolman areas already discussed)”. In all three cases, “Units connected with covered walk (similar to existing original and 400 units)” was the preferred choice, by percentages ranging from 53% to 85% depending on the question.

Conclusions. In summary, I would say that the survey showed that the preferences of Kendal and Crosslands residents were similar in many respects. There was unanimity around the importance of the natural environment and trails, the need to encourage social interaction, the preference for covered walkways, and the importance of energy efficiency.

Where preferences differed, it was often due to two factors that reflect the differences between the campus layouts that already exist: Crosslands is more oriented to the use of cars than Kendal, and there are already multi-story residences there.