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Ficus tree removal makes way for new building

January 4, 2011

The old ficus tree near Memorial Hall was beloved but had invasive roots and was removed in anticipation of development of new classroom space.

During the semester break, Campus Planning oversaw the removal of the large ficus tree that was between Smith Hall and Memorial Hall. The tree’s removal, approved in advance by the Real Estate Committee of the Board of Trustees, was done in anticipation of development of the site.  In addition, Chapman’s arborist cautioned that the root system was highly invasive and ultimately would have damaged the foundations of historic Smith Hall.

After evaluating the viability of relocating the tree and determining that a relocation of such a large specimen seldom succeeds, the committee decided to remove it. The tree was removed during the semester break primarily out of regard for the safety of students, staff and faculty, said Kris Eric Olsen, vice president for campus planning and operations at Chapman.

Olsen said the university worked closely with the city of Orange and local historical groups, and notified neighbors in the areas adjacent to the site. The tree was not a Historic/Heritage tree.

While the development project is still in the process of design, the university will seek city of Orange support to create a fourth building on the historic Bert Williams Mall, completing the original design concept for the space. The new building, once approved, will provide general-use classrooms, filling a need at Chapman.

The Board of Trustees has earmarked funding for the project, which could begin construction as early as this summer, depending on civic approvals.  Chapman’s landscape architects will create a landscaping plan for the area that will include new trees, Olsen said.

“We are saddened by the loss of the ficus tree,” he added. “Even though it can’t be replaced, we hope that the new landscaping plan will create a beautiful new environment for future generations to enjoy.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Strategis77 permalink
    January 4, 2011 2:19 pm

    So sad – that was such an amazing tree! Probably one of the oldest on campus. I wonder why there wasn’t more effort made to save the tree and design the new building around or to the side of it??

  2. Aaron Humphrey permalink
    January 4, 2011 6:50 pm

    I once gave a class presentation from the limbs of that tree, and spent many afternoons in its shade. I imagine current students are understandably upset about its “sudden” disappearance. RIP great ficus.

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