Paresky Commons Granted Paul E. Tsongas Award

Paresky Commons will add another accolade to its LEED Certified preservation after Preservation Massachusetts awarded the Paul E. Tsongas Award to the building on Wednesday, May 4, 2011.

Paresky Commons, Phillips Academy’s 80- year- old dining hall, won the award for its efforts in sustainabilty since the renovation in 2009.

Preservation Massachusetts (PM), a statewide non-profit historic preservation organization, awards the Paul E. Tsongas Award for colleges, universities and preparatory schools with particularly admirable preservation efforts on campus. This was the first year Phillips Academy had ever been involved with the Preservation Massachusetts competition.

Twenty- one projects from varying Massachusetts educational institutions received awards this year. The additional recipients included Brimmer and May School, College of the Holy Cross, Harvard University and Wellesley College.

The building was honored on May 4, at the Annual Awards Dinner at the Fairmount Copley Plaza.

“I am speculating that Preservation Mass was most impressed by our ability to renovate a historic dining facility and implement the most recent technology, food service and equipment. It takes a great deal of effort to make these changes, [while also] trying to preserve everything in the existing structure,” said John Galanis, Office of the Physical Plant,

Larry Muench, Director of Facilities, said in a Phillips Academy press release, “We are extremely pleased to be awarded this honor. It’s a beautiful building used by almost everyone on campus every day. The award reaffirms our collective efforts in renovation projects to consider and then follow through with historic preservation.”

Courtney Whelan, Program Manager at PM, said “We thought that Paresky Commons was preserved extremely well and was definitely a strong applicant compared to other projects.”

A Phillips Academy parent notified Phillips Academy of the Education theme of this year’s Paul E. Tsongas Award, and the school put together a nomination package to submit, according to Galanis.

Nominated projects had to be completed in the past four years.

The schools chose to enter in a specific category. The possible categories evaluated the master plan, preservation, restoration, landscape, adaptive reuse, compatible new construction, sustainability, community commitment and revitalization.

Phillips Academy nominated Paresky Commons for its efforts in restoration and sustainable and LEED certified work, according to Galanis.

“There are a number of sustainable operations that we have implemented at Commons, from simply removing trays to the Pulper system,” said Galanis.

Since the renovation, all of the food waste in Commons is sent to a central collection location. The food is then compressed and shipped off site to local farms for compost, according to Galanis.

Galanis added that the stone used in the renovation of the building matched the previous perfectly.

Phillips Academy purchased Tennessee marble to create the staircase into the Den. The new walls of the building used the same quarry that initially provided the Alabama limestone for the walls of Paresky Commons.

“Just think about what we did in the process. We essentially found recycled marble from the supplier and cut it into the size that we needed for the stairs to the Den. That way, it would match the marble used in other areas of the building,” said Galanis.

A nomination form for the Andover Inn renovations was also submitted to the Our Preservation Education competition, though the Andover Inn did not win an award.