Commons Renovations Total $30 Million; Building Renamed For David Paresky ’56 After $10 Million Donation

After over a year of waiting, students will finally be able to return to Phillips Academy’s true dining hall, Commons, after spring break. Paresky Commons, named after David Paresky ’56, has been entirely renovated, at the cost of nearly $30 million. The construction began in January 2008, and the first meal in the new facility will be served on March 29. In 2004, Paresky donated a $10 million unrestricted gift to Andover, which was later allocated to fund the Commons project. “We would not have done this [renovation] without the seed gift,” said Paul Murphy, Dean of Students and Residential Life. Although it would have cost the school significantly less money to build a new dining hall in the place of Commons, students, faculty and alumni opposed the destruction of a landmark building on campus. “Building a whole new building would have cost half of [the $30 million], but almost every living alumnus ate in this building, and they would not pay to see it torn down,” said Murphy. “Students and faculty were adamant to keep the old feel,” he added. The finishing committee and design team for the construction of Paresky Commons included Murphy, David Chase, Director of Stewardship, and Michael Williams, Director of Facilities. Student and faculty opinions have been involved in the decision-making process for the Commons renovation since fall 2004, when the Daniel Adler ’05, then School President, was a member of the planning committee. Steve Carter, Chief Operating and Financial Officer, Marlys Edwards, former Dean of Students, Keith Robinson, Instructor in Biology, and the late Craig Thorn, former Instructor in English, were also members of the original planning committee in 2004. Through surveys of the student body, the planning committee and building contractors determined what the community valued most about Commons and what they wanted to see change. Among the aspects of Commons that students wanted to retain were the building’s historic character, high ceilings, paneled walls, stairways, exterior design and gathering space in the lobby of the building. Students most wanted to change the bathrooms, color schemes, air quality, serving areas and lighting in Commons.