Over a year from the beginning of construction in the summer of 2014, the Rebecca M. Sykes Wellness Center is now three months away from its opening day on December 3 — the first day of Winter Term. Over the summer, the structural component of the building was completed and several enhancements were added to the existing blueprint, including changes in the usage of space within the building and the additional construction of a garden.
“A main advantage is the new building’s proximity to core campus and student travel paths. The new Sykes Center is the same size as the old Isham Health Center, but due to an efficient design, will comfortably fit both the Isham team and the Graham House team,” said Larry Muench, Director of Facilities.
In addition, new titles and offices have been designated within the Isham and Graham staff, following the development of concrete plans for space use. Amy Patel, Medical Director, said that the staff is currently working to minimize wait time and expedite access to the right medical provider for students.
Patel added that a previously set room for storage will now be used as a space for student clubs to meet and conduct health-related discussions, including Dear Sam, Andover Global Health Initiative, Students in Medicine, and Meditation Club.
“We recognized that we wanted more space for students to utilize the Sykes Wellness Center in ways beyond just care, so we took a room and made it a collaborative office space,” she said.
The East Garden, modelled after a “zen” or “healing” garden, will face Benner House and feature an area for relaxation as well as space for classes and clubs to convene.
“It will be a relaxing place to reflect, study, learn in an outdoor classroom format, and a beautiful backdrop through the windows on that side of the building,” said Patel.
Once Isham Health Center moves to the new building over Thanksgiving Break, the current location will close for renovation in February 2016 to become a new dorm for fall term, separated from the existing Isham dormitory.
“The construction will consist of a complete interior renovation of all three floors to transform the infirmary into a modern dormitory,” said Muench.
The use of Graham House is to be further determined in the future, according to Patel.
“I think [this transition] is going to be an absolutely incredible opportunity for our students to think about their health and wellness and [for the Wellness Center] to be much more accessible on a regular basis. Walking by the Wellness Center pretty much every day or seeing it from the windows of Paresky Commons is going to be important in helping students remember that focusing on their health is really important,” said Patel.