Over the last month, the build site for the Lower School has been transformed from a graded and leveled dirt footprint to a fully formed foundation with structural steel beams in place. To see the amazing transformation, be sure to watch the time lapse video. These developments provide a really good visual of the size and layout of the building.
Key construction milestones of the last month were:
- Installation of the plumbing lines beneath the slab
- The first-floor slab was formed and poured in two phases, the east side and the west side (2,765 cubic yards of foundation poured)
- Structural steel began arriving and will continue to be put in place over the next several weeks (587 tons of steel in total)
Interesting facts on the crane that is on site:
- Delivered to the construction site in five truckloads
- Another crane was used to put this crane together
- 110-ton lifting capacity
- 220-foot tall boom
- 263 horsepower
- Tracks are each 36" wide
QUESTION OF THE MONTH, answered by Ruth Burke, Associate Head of School
The update above is brief and to the point in order to save the bulk of this communication to answer the "Question of the Month"...it's not a short answer!
The question I received most often in the last few weeks came from students, faculty, and parents who ventured to the viewing area on the track level of the competition gym. After the entire foundation was poured two weeks ago, it was easy to see that there was a circular area on the west side that was recessed several inches (see photo below). What is that circle in the foundation? Why is it several inches lower than the rest of the foundation that was poured? I love this question because the answer provides insight into the core design philosophy of our new Lower School!
The circle is in the center of the "neighborhood" for the Beginner and Pre-Kindergarten classrooms. The neighborhood concept came from our faculty team when we initially brainstormed our hopes and dreams for this new facility. We asked the team, "How can we leverage every square inch of the Lower School to support and facilitate learning and teaching?" One of the central ideas born from those early conversations (more than four years ago!) was the neighborhood concept, a concept that will live throughout the new Lower School.
The neighborhood concept lies at the heart of the design of the new Lower School - making the spaces between and around classrooms as much about learning and teaching as the classrooms themselves. Homerooms are the nucleus of a child's academic day, but the neighborhood brings a grade level together to afford consistency of curriculum and opportunities to take full advantage of the strengths of the entire teaching staff. When a family lives on a cul de sac, it is not necessary for every house to have a basketball hoop. The same is true in our neighborhoods. Here, students can connect and share resources as they learn and play in meaningful ways.
Each neighborhood will have a different look and feel based on the developmental needs and abilities of that age group. Where the Beginner and Pre-K students share a neighborhood that offers space for gross motor and active play, the first grade neighborhood will be a "hive" (literally) of reading and learning activities, and the fourth grade neighborhood will offer a greater level of sophistication for interactions and collaboration among our oldest Lower School students as they ready themselves to move on to Middle School.
A unique learning tree will anchor the early childhood neighborhood. The tree will not only provide quiet spaces for learning and conversation, but also active possibilities for young children to strengthen their gross motor skills as they play, climb, and explore. What makes this tree even more special is that is has been designed by our very own arts faculty member, Dane Larsen, in conjunction with Beginner and Pre-Kindergarten teachers. The tree will be constructed by Mr. Larsen with the help of a few of his AP art students later this school year. Truly, this is a project that brings our community together in a special way ... and a sign of things to come.
So, there is a short answer to the question, "Why is there a circle on the west side of the foundation?", and it is: The circle is recessed so a rubberized, cushioned floor can be placed there for the base of the tree since this will, at times, be an area of active learning and play.