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Shepley named for Emma Willard School adaptive reuse program

Wednesday, 10 May 2006

BOSTON, MA — Shepley Bulfinch has been selected as architect for a series of adaptive reuse projects at the Emma Willard School. The projects mark the initial phases of a comprehensive master plan seeking to revitalize the historic campus located in Troy, NY.

The adaptive reuse project at the Gothic-style campus signifies the modernization of a school steeped in tradition. As 2014 marks the school’s bicentennial, campus improvements come at an appropriate and significant time in the school’s history.

Shepley Bulfinch aims to maximize the function of the central campus buildings through adaptive reuse of the main floor areas. The initial phase of the program is to redevelop, redefine, and increase the presence of community life spaces in the central buildings. The 55,000 g.s.f. adaptive reuse and rehabilitation of the main floor and lower level of the Sage/Hyphen/Kellas residence hall complex will be organized around a new servery and dining commons and will support student activity with day lockers, group study and meeting rooms, a bookstore, e-café and a mix of study areas. Groundbreaking is scheduled for June.

The centrality of these buildings on campus makes them ideal venues for numerous school-wide activities. Renovating community spaces in this residential area will increase dialogue, promoting a strong community dynamic and increased interaction between students and faculty and between day and boarding students.

Landscape alterations and enhancements are also a part of these initial phases and are being designed by Halvorson Design Partnership, based in Boston. These improvements include redevelopment of the campus’ original front entrance to create a more welcoming and attractive approach. Restoration of elements of the original Olmstead master plan will increase pedestrian safety, enhance the campus landscape and improve vehicle circulation and parking.

The school recently received a $16.5 million gift from Helen Snell Cheel, a 1923 graduate and former trustee. The money will be put towards a $75 million initiative to maintain top tier teachers, increase scholarship funds, and improve the campus architecture and plan. As part of this campaign, the Shepley Bulfinch team of James F. Hunnewell, Jr, Alexander Howe, Susan Hoadley, and David Bliss have created an innovative design for adaptive reuse. At the same time, they are mindful that the changes must appropriately coincide with the historical character of the institution and with its landmark buildings.

Emma Willard School is the nation’s oldest all-girls secondary educational institution. Established in 1814 by educator Emma Hart Willard, the school moved to its current 150-acre main campus in 1910. The private boarding and day institution boasts a diverse student body of 310 girls. The school instills in each student an ambition for academic excellence, leadership, creativity, fulfillment and public service, which are the school’s core values.

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