While students and faculty have not been to campus since March 2020, when the School shifted to virtual learning in response to COVID-19, there were some whose work simply could not be conducted online. In addition to the School’s hard working facilities and janitorial staff who kept the School safe and sanitized, the design, engineering, and construction team responsible for the new $8.7 million STEM Center and Theatre project, which broke ground in December, also remained on task.
The 13,500-square-foot Weiss Family STEM Center and Breen Family Performing Arts Center, designed to be a state-of-the-art hub for science, technology, engineering, math, and performing arts, required a wall-to-wall reconstruction and, when completed, will transform the western wing of the Chesebro Academic Building.
While students and faculty became accustomed to the sound of progress last year, adjusting this year won’t be necessary, as all demolition has been completed. “We are past the heavy noise,” says J. Michael Chaykowsky ’80, director of operations. “The team has also completed framing the STEM Center, installed new structural steel and openings for the doors, rough electric has been installed, and sheet rock for the labs is up,” he adds.
As for the Theatre, “the former space has been completely demolished, rough electric is up for the store room and dressing rooms, and plumbing has been installed for the bathrooms. In addition, the new entrance has been cut in and the wall that separates the lobby from the Theatre is being constructed.” Mr. Chaykowsky also pointed out that the utilities have been modified and ductwork for the air-conditioning has been installed.
Despite plenty of advances, the team did encounter some setbacks. “We ran into some unforeseen conditions,” Mr. Chaykowsky explained. COVID-19 presented a few obstacles for the project team, from reduced manpower to delayed materials, ultimately affecting the timeline. The Theatre is now likely to open late spring/early summer. Mr. Chaykowsky is still hopeful, however, that students will be able to utilize the new lab spaces by late winter or early spring.
Designed by renowned campus architects, HDR, and awarded to builder C. Raymond Davis and Sons, the project’s primary intent is to modernize the facilities and outfit them with the tools and technology of contemporary working labs and performance venues. The dual project benefited from almost two years of research and design led by Chief Financial and Operations Officer Stefanie Connell and the Board of Trustees. Mr. Chaykowsky and his team conducted a series of vignettes with faculty, visited professional labs and performance venues, and consulted experts in a variety of fields. Read more about the exciting plans.