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The Writing Center's current location at 3808 Walnut Street. In Fall 2019, the center will move to the McNeil Building on Locust Walk.

Credit: Eliud Vargas

After 15 years of serving students on 3808 Walnut St., the Marks Family Writing Center will be starting a new chapter a couple blocks over.

In fall 2019, the Writing Center will move from its longtime home in the Eisenlohr Annex to spaces that will soon be renovated in the McNeil Building on 3718 Locust Walk.

Critical Writing Program Director Valarie Ross said with the construction of new buildings like the Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics, new vacancies have emerged in places previously filled to capacity.

The Economics Department previously held many offices in the McNeil Building, but those offices are largely vacated now, since staff and faculty moved to the Perelman Center this fall. Ross said the Writing Center took the opportunity to accommodate the program she said is serving a rapidly growing base of students. 

“New buildings going up are opening up other spaces, and while we absolutely love 3808, we are honestly outgrowing it,” Ross said. "This new space will give us some much-needed elbow room.” 

Some student tutors have expressed disappointment with the move from the homey, artistic, dim-lit atmosphere that exists in the Eisenlohr Annex to the starch, academic environment of the McNeil Building. 

Still, administrators have said they would be updating the McNeil Building before the Writing Center moves there next fall. Ross said Modh Studio has been hired to renovate McNeil, but that the project is still in the planning phases.

Credit: Maria Murad

The Writing Center will occupy the first and fourth floors of the McNeil Building on 3718 Locust Walk.

College junior Noah Lobell, who works as a Writing Center tutor, said many of his colleagues will miss the comforting ambiance of the current building, but he appreciated still that McNeil would be renovated.

“It’s an old Victorian House, and I think a lot of people really like that space,” Lobell said of the building on Walnut. “And I think most people want to stay in this really old beautiful house, rather than move to an older, not updated building." 

"They’re trying to assuage those fears by updating [McNeil]," he added.

Ross said Modh Studio has as its goal to capture the "comfort level" and “writerly aesthetic" that characterizes 3808 Walnut St. 

With its extra space, Ross added that the Writing Center will be better able to both accommodate students who prefer a more private setting and advance its communal workshop programs. 

Ross announced the move to her tutoring staff and faculty in an email on Aug. 6. She said the Writing Center will take up half of McNeil’s first floor, and Writing Center faculty and administrators will occupy offices on the fourth floor.

Executive Director of Communications Leo Charney wrote in an email that it is the Provost Office’s ambition to help “design an exciting new state-of-the-art writing center on Locust Walk.” 

Engineering junior and Writing Center tutor Matthew Larson said the move could make his and his colleagues' services accessible to more students. Still, Larson said as long as he has an opportunity to continue tutoring, he isn't overly concerned about the Center’s location.

“In reality, I’m indifferent,” Larson said. “I like the job, so I don’t really care where it is.” 

Eisenlohr Annex on 3808 Walnut St. once housed both the Writing Center and the Gender Studies Department, but Gender Studies relocated to College Hall at the start of this school year, Larson said. 

The Writing Center, which was founded in 2003 and has always been housed in Eisenlohr Annex, offers tutors to students for help with writing and specific assignments and also runs different workshops.

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