Awash with natural light, its walls covered with brightly colored paint, the Rebecca M. Sykes Wellness Center opened last Wednesday, December 2 and was awarded a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold for the building’s high level of environmental sustainability.
The Sykes Wellness Center will replace Isham Health Center and Graham House as health and counseling centers, respectively. Featuring low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints and geothermal walls, the Center promotes environmentally-friendly practices.
Dr. Amy Patel, Medical Director and Co-Director of Wellness Education, said, “We’re excited to have the LEED certification because it’s just an external certification that this building is not only functional for [physical] health and being, but it’s also a building that supports health and well-being to everybody that enters it.”
Set on the hill between Bulfinch Hall and Benner House, the Sykes Wellness Center’s unique design allows it to take advantage of the elevation change while maintaining a contemporary feel. Throughout the construction of the center, the project team relied on recycled materials and renewable products whenever possible.
Larry Muench, Director of Facilities, said, “[Andover] cares deeply about sustainability and made the decision to assign resources to achieve that level for this building. We work hard to incorporate sustainability into every project on campus, whether it be through equipment or operations.”
One aspect of the Sykes Wellness Center is its ability to maintain student privacy, as it functions as both a health and counseling center. In addition, the Sykes Wellness Center offers space for classes, clubs and studying.
“Students can be here for all sorts of reasons, so being able to help maintain that anonymity and privacy that some students seek while also being an extremely accessible community building is really exciting,” said Patel.
The exterior of the Skyes Wellness Center also features the East Garden, an area in the back of the Center complete with benches and a patio.
“My personal favorite [aspect of the Center] is the [East] Garden. It’s so beautiful, and even with all the leaves having fallen off the bushes and the trees, it’s still so gorgeous. I think that it will just be another serene place on campus for students to be able to either sit quietly, reflect, have an outdoor class or just have a little mindful moment,” said Patel.
Eastlyn Frankel ’18 said, “In comparison to Isham, there are a ton of windows. The walls are light yellow, so it makes everything seem more open and happier.”
Patel hopes the Sykes Wellness Center will provide a space for students to relax or get help if needed.
“One of my favorite things is to interact with students after they’ve taken a look at the building, and [see] how they marvel at how incredible this building is, how beautiful it is and how it’s an asset to the community. I love seeing that, because this is ultimately for the students,” said Patel.
The Sykes Wellness Center plans to host guest speakers in the future and will hold an official dedication ceremony on May 6, 2016. This is Andover’s second LEED-certified building. In 2009, the school’s sustainable renovation of Paresky Commons earned a Silver LEED certification.