Construction of Colby-Sawyer’s long-planned arts building is underway and continuing at a brisk pace as summer turns to fall.
The 15,000-square-foot facility, scheduled to open in fall 2017, will offer studios, a state-of-the-art black box theater and a fine art gallery with views of Mt. Kearsarge, as well as offices for faculty and outdoor art areas.
“Anticipation is high on campus as faculty and students eagerly await the grand opening of the new arts building,” said Kathy Bonavist, vice president for Advancement. “While tuition is the primary funding mechanism for our core educational programs, it is the generosity of alumni and friends whose philanthropy provides depth and breadth to the educational experience.”
The project began in earnest in June with the dismantling of Colby Farm by Vermont-based Deconstruction Works. The last traces of the house and barn, built as a private single-family residence built in 1987, were gone by mid-July when North Branch Construction began prepping the site and creating a retention pond.
Last week, foundation footers were poured to support the mechanical systems that will be tucked under the single-story building designed by the S/L/A/M Collaborative of Connecticut. By early December, the steel frame, sheathing and insulation, trusses and roof will be in place. Interior work will continue in the enclosed building over the winter.
“We plan to have the building ready in time to greet our faculty and students upon their return from summer break,” said Bob Vachon, senior director for Facilities and Capital Projects Management. “Going out to bid for our construction management company early in the process allowed Colby-Sawyer to hire North Branch in the very early stages of design. This was key in creating an efficient process that supports accountability and a collaborative effort between the college, architects and builder. We have a unified and motivated team moving this exciting project forward.”
The main lobby, side entrance and conference room walls of the arts building will feature walls finished with wide floorboards salvaged from Colby Farm, which was acquired by the college in 2000. When it was offered to local developers this spring contingent upon removal with no takers, the New London Board of Selectmen approved its razing. Colby-Sawyer retained for use elsewhere on campus the majority of the hardwood floors found throughout the house and the interior lighting fixtures, the granite steps and edging, and the weathervane on the garage.