Summer Renovation: A Great Success
After many meetings, architectural drawings, and headaches, the renovations that commenced this summer are finally complete.
Last year, faculty, including Upper School Librarian Andrew Parson, lobbied for updates to certain parts of the school. As summer approached, Head of School Bruce Dennis gave the green light to a half a million dollar renovation project. Now, the Packer community is enjoying a new and improved library and a larger nurse’s office.
The most impactful improvements were those made to the library. The space has an entirely different look, and what was once rustic and worn out is now modern and fresh. The ornate towering bookcases remain, and students have said that they look even more beautiful into the new furnishings.
Compared to the heavy wood tables and chairs, the new lightweight replacements are easy to rearrange to accommodate large group events.
“We had to think of furniture that could be moved easily,” said Mr. Parson. “now the tables’ tops flip up, so they can be rolled away. The chairs are lighter and they are more durable, so they should hold up to be moving around a lot.”
Mr. Parson will no longer need to call on the maintenance staff in advance of an event. “If a speaker was coming in, [the old furniture] would require two men from maintenance to come in twice. First, to move everything off to the side, and then after to put the library back together. Now I can do it by myself.”
Before the renovation, Mr. Parson frequently complained about the safety hazard imposed by extension cords draped across the library floor. Now, not only are there more outlets, but many are placed in the floor around the room, not just in the exterior walls.
However, complaints have been made by juniors about the extension of the nurse’s office, because space that used to be apart of the junior section is now extra room for the nurses.
“I don’t understand why they had to take space out of the junior section to extend the nurse’s office,” said Andreas Tsiaras (‘18.) “The room that now takes up our previous space is literally never used, so with a grade our size it seems more detrimental than beneficial.”
Although the expansion of the nurse’s office took space from the junior section in the student center, “it will give students a greater sense of privacy when they are being treated in there for a private health issue,” said Dr. Dennis.
While the renovations were made for the greater good of the school community, some students still question why money was spent on the library and nurse’s office rather than on installing an air conditioning system in the parts of the school without one.
“I would love to have air conditioning here, but it’s not like just getting air conditioning in an apartment,” says Dr. Dennis. “It’s rewiring the whole building, bringing the electrical capacity in, figuring out where to put the AC units. It’s a massive job. It would be hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of thousands of dollars just to air condition the chapel.”
Dr. Dennis also spoke about Packer’s future plans for renovation. As some might know, Packer recently purchased a new building for the Lower School. Dr. Dennis plans on opening the new Lower School building in years to come, along with making renovations to the spaces the Lower School currently occupies. He talked about creating another Student Center in the Garden House and food service amenities, like more snack bars.
Dr. Dennis made it very clear that he is aware of the fact that kids and faculty are in the school building more hours a day than in their own homes.
“This building is very heavily utilized, and you can’t have a building that’s used to that degree and not keep it up,” says Dr. Dennis. “You got to take care of your house!”