With the Revers Center complete, the Board of Trustees is shifting the focus to Phase II of our capital campus improvements—reimagining and refurbishing the original academic quadrangle on campus. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, construction projects have been put on hold, but important planning and fundraising work has remained in motion so the projects can ramp up as soon as possible. Included in Phase II are updates to the original academic quadrangle. Lewis, Carlin, Haynes, and Prince buildings—in addition to the classroom spaces in Haffenreffer—will be extensively renovated and reconfigured, turning them into fully refurbished state-of-the-art teaching, learning, and community spaces. The results will enhance Rivers’s Middle and Upper School programs, making them more conducive to 21st century academic needs, more reflective of the school’s interdisciplinary program, and better suited to collaboration and community building.
The renovations will unfold in several stages. First up, we have been able to start work in Haynes, in part because we need to create new health center spaces before the reopening of school. Next, we intend to focus concertedly on updates to Prince. The reconfigured building will house three classrooms instead of five; two of the classrooms will increase in size by 50 percent, with breakout spaces to allow greater instructional flexibility. Exterior windows will be replaced, using high performance glass that admits plenty of daylight but improves insulation. “It makes a dramatic difference, in terms of comfort,” says Dave Ehrhardt of Dario Designs, the architect for the project. The upgraded windows will also lead to significant energy savings. A new gathering space gives students and teachers a place to convene and collaborate. Throughout the building—and through all of the renovated spaces that will be completed as part of the larger project—all finishes will be brought to the level of The Revers Center, and new lighting and furniture will modernize the aesthetic of these learning spaces.
We then intend to continue work on Haynes and start work on Carlin. In addition to new health spaces, Haynes will house Middle School art rooms. The Carlin lower level will be home to the tutoring area, as well as new breakout/study spaces. The campus transformation will continue with planned renovations to Lewis. Lewis, says Ehrhardt, “is going to be great,” with dramatic open spaces and views of the wetlands area, and once the renovations are completed, it will serve as the Middle School’s primary building. The configuration of the first floor of Lewis will be changed dramatically so that visitors entering the building will be able to see straight through to large rear windows overlooking Nonesuch Pond. The hallway will also serve as a community gathering space. That floor will be home to new Middle School science classrooms, as well as a new office for the head of the Middle School. The lower level will house a new suite for the IT department, more classrooms, and a maker space.
In the last phase of the quadrangle reimagining, upper Haynes and Haffenreffer will also both receive extensive facelifts, with new finishes throughout both buildings. The new slate of campus updates will require the Rivers community to build on the momentum that carried the school through the completion of The Revers Center. The schedule and scope of the renovations will, of course, be dependent on the school’s ability to raise the necessary funds for the work, and on the reality of the ongoing health and safety concerns of the pandemic, but Parsons is optimistic the Rivers community is up to the task. “As the last round of campus improvements demonstrated,” he said, “this community is capable of doing whatever it puts its mind to.”