Construction of Gelb Science Center Continues During Break

Though the snow may have blanketed the Phillips Academy campus over break, the two feet of snow did not hinder the Office of the Physical Plant (OPP) from making progress on the numerous construction projects currently underway. The winter term has ushered in new stages in planning and development of the Richard L. Gelb Science Center as it nears its completion date for the next academic year. Engineers and designers are also hard at work on plans for improvements to the Elson Art Center and Morse Hall. These tasks are the latest in a series of changes to the school’s infrastructure designed to provide students and faculty with the best-maintained facilities of any private secondary school. The Gelb Science Center has its steel superstructure securely in place. The center’s roof is nearly installed, and preparations have begun for the addition of a state-of-the-art astronomical observatory. Though the building’s interior has yet to be finished, several sides of Gelb now sport red bricks and mortar designed to match the building’s older counterparts on the central quadrangle of campus. Director of Facilities Michael Williams commented that work on the building was “on schedule” and that the center’s designers had taken the harsh New England winter into consideration when setting the construction timetable. With a completion date set for late 2003 or early 2004, much work remains before the Division of Natural Sciences can relocate to its new home. The facility, which will replace the forty-year-old Evans Hall, will provide a home for the academy’s three scientific disciplines. The Biology, Chemistry, and Physics Departments will each receive their own, 16,000 square-foot floor in the center, and every level will also boast a unique room that will be dedicated to interdisciplinary work. Cutting edge technology in every classroom will provide students with exciting new ways to learn about the world around them. The Gelb Science Center will join a diverse portfolio of award-winning academic buildings created by its designers, the architectural firm of Kallmann, McKinnell & Wood, Inc. Prior to their work on Gelb, the Boston-based team also designed science buildings for both Yale and Washington Universities. Although summer break is over four months away, OPP is already hard at work planning the vacation’s renovation slate. Currently in preliminary planning stages are renovations to the Elson Art Center. Though completed in 1995, the relatively new structure has shown signs of wear and tear on its windows and roof, and these components are consequently scheduled to see repair work over the summer. Additionally, plans have been drawn up for new offices to house the school’s numerous student clubs, which will be forced to move into new quarters in Morse Hall after the demolition of their current home in the basement of Evans. Blueprints for these offices display well-thought-out work areas and private offices for club members. Among the clubs to inhabit the soon-to-be-refurbished Morse Hall basement are The Pot Pourri, WPAA 97.1 FM, and The Phillipian. Amongst the buildings not scheduled to be refurbished, however, is Pearson Hall. Home to the Classics Department, the Academy’s oldest building saw its last renovation in the 1920s and requires several repairs. According to Mr. Williams, however, no plans have been drawn up for Pearson because of a lack of funds. Any major restoration of the structure would cost at least four million dollars–money that has not been included in the OPP’s budget for 2003.