February 21, 2020

Here we are nearing the end of February and, while the days can be quite cold, the work on the Swartz Hall renewal project is heating up.

About 100 laborers are busy performing work on the site, and that number will hold steady for the next few weeks. These workers include tradespeople like plumbers, electricians, mill workers, and many others. We’re grateful for the work they are putting in to help transform Swartz Hall into a modern, efficient, and accessible teaching, learning, and communal space for our School community.

Those passing by the construction area may have noticed a large crane situated within the worksite on the Campus Green. The crane is moving steel beams of various sizes (ranging anywhere from 500 to 5,000 pounds) around the site and even up to the top of the Swartz Hall tower. Some of the steel is being used to reinforce the floor underneath the Braun Room. Other beams are reinforcing the tower structure where new mechanical equipment will be housed.

Swartz Hall scaffolding

Swartz Hall crane

What’s more, the crane has been putting into position the steel beams that will frame the multipurpose addition that replaces the previous cloister link. Crews have been readying that part of the site for months, and the foundation is nearly finished. This is an exciting milestone in the renovation project. On Friday, February 21, the very first piece of steel for the addition was put into place (see below), and now that section of the building will really begin to take shape.

Swartz Hall addition first steel beam

Another very visible feature of the project is the scaffolding that was erected against the Swartz Hall tower on the Campus Green side. The scaffolding allows workers to perform masonry repairs and prepare to replace the slate roof. The new slate was quarried in Vermont and hand carved in the same style as the current slate roof. Some of you may remember the buckets that would occasionally appear in the hallways to catch dripping water. We’re excited that the new slate roof will help prevent future leaks and the need for those buckets.

I wanted to include the picture below because it’s not something anyone will see once the project is finished, but it will have a big impact on the environmental efficiency of the building. The picture shows a vapor barrier that has been applied around the windows. This will help protect the wood and allow it to last longer. To the sides of the windows you can see the exterior walls have been padded out with insulation in between metal frames. Before the project there was only wood placed on top of the stone exterior walls. The insulation helps keep the building airtight and minimizes the loss of heat in the winter and cool air in the summer, reducing our energy use.

Swartz Hall window

There is a lot of work taking place to transform our century-old main campus building. You can see in the pictures below that the ground floor has been excavated, the old stack wing is cleared out, and the second floor is down to its studs. Now that much of the preparation and demolition work is nearly complete, the renewal will quickly begin to take shape and January 2021 will be here before we know it.

Swartz Hall ground floor

Swartz Hall old stack wing

Swartz Hall second floor

Site work. Work continues placing footings and walls in Swartz Hall and in the old stack wing elevator pit. Underpinning inside Swartz Hall in preparation for foundation work continues. Interior demolition activities, rough framing, and plumbing and electrical work are ongoing. Dumpster swaps are ongoing. All activities are subject to change based on weather or other circumstances.

—Ralph