August 25, 2019--When Rivers School students return to school in September after a summer away, they will be returning to a campus that has undergone a significant physical transformation. Those changes include a whole new outdoor athletic complex, a reshaped quad in the center of campus, a new academic building that is rapidly approaching completion, and a new boardwalk that provides a shortcut from the center of campus to Nonesuch Field.
Of all these changes, the most dramatic is the new athletic complex, which consists of two new artificial turf fields and a new pavillion. The construction of the new complex has been proceeding at a breakneck pace all summer, with a goal of having the fields available for the fall sports season. Though construction on the project didn’t begin until May, the new fields will be ready for the season opening games.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with how this project has gone,” says Head of School Ned Parsons. “We were fortunate to have nearly perfect weather all summer, so there were virtually no construction delays. I am so grateful to the donors who not only provided the funds to make this project a reality but encouraged us to get the complex built as quickly as possible so that it would be ready for use during this fall’s sports season. I know our kids and coaches are going to love it, and I look forward to Homecoming this year when we will celebrate the opening of this new complex with our full Rivers community of parents and alumni.”
The new complex is situated in front of the MacDowell Athletic Center, roughly in the same location as the old playing fields. The first field, called Davis Field, runs parallel to Winter Street and will be used for football, field hockey, and lacrosse. West Field, at the far end of the complex next to Hovey Avenue, will be used for soccer, field hockey, and lacrosse.
Between the two fields sits a pavilion that consists of a fieldhouse and large patio area. “The pavilion is a really nice addition to our campus facilities,” says Parsons. “We’ll be able to use it to serve food to spectators during games, and it will be a gathering spot for our community during special events.”
The entrance to the complex is framed by a new stone wall and two stone pillars. The school plans to place a bronze statue of a red-winged blackbird at this entrance in honor of the native feathered species that served as the inspiration for The Rivers School’s sports nickname, the Red Wings. On game days, athletes entering the field will be able to touch the statue for luck.
New Boardwalk and Center Quad
Meanwhile, at the opposite end of campus, students will find another completed construction project--a brand new boardwalk that will significantly cut the time it takes athletes and fans to make the walk from the center of campus up to Nonesuch Field.
The new boardwalk, which starts at the back of the Prince Building, runs about 250 yards across wetlands before dumping out onto Nonesuch Road, just a short walk away from Nonesuch Field. In addition to dramatically cutting the time it will take people to walk to the field, the new boardwalk opens up a stunningly beautiful section of campus that was previously inaccessible. The center of the boardwalk passes over a mid-size stream that is surrounded by tall grasses and cat-o-nine tails, a gorgeous wetlands environment that will enthrall all who walk past it.
In the center of campus, construction on the building for the new Center for Science and Visual Arts made tremendous progress over the summer. The brick facade is complete and the windows are all in place. And on the inside, walls are going up and rooms are rapidly taking shape. All is on track for a January 2020 opening.
Outside the building, the center quad, which used to be a football field and which students enjoy using as a place to play and relax during good weather, has undergone a dramatic transformation of its own. New gardens and a reconfigured quad that contains both artificial turf and natural grass create a community space that delights the eye and gives students an even more pleasant outdoor space to enjoy. While they won’t be able to make full use of that space in the fall, as the newly seeded lawns will need time to grow, by spring, the new quad will undoubtedly prove to be one of the most popular spots on campus.--Stephen Porter