Westminster School concluded a yearlong celebration of its 125th anniversary Sept. 28 with dedication of two new state-of-the-art student and faculty residence halls that feature leading-edge green design. Speakers at the dedication ceremony, which was attended by students, faculty alumni and parents, included Headmaster Bill Philip, senior Maxine Smith and alumnus Graham Gund, who designed the new buildings.
The two 31,405-square-foot residences, one for boys named Squibb House and one for girls named Gund House, each have 49 student rooms — 13 single and 18 double rooms — and four faculty apartments.
Construction began on the project in March 2012, following the surprise announcement of a $10 million anonymous gift to the school, the second largest in the school’s history, and additional generous support provided by alumni, parents and friends of the school.
“The residential life experience for Westminster students and faculty has been transformed with the opening of these new residences,” said Headmaster Bill Philip. “One of the hallmarks of Westminster School is its sense of community, and these buildings were specifically designed to further enhance our vibrant residential living and learning community in countless ways.”
Graham Gund, who is president of Gund Partnership, an award-winning architecture firm in Cambridge, Mass., developed the school’s master plan has designed numerous other buildings on campus.
The design of the residences is in keeping with the Tudor-style architecture of the campus that keys off Cushing Hall, the school’s original building, which was built in 1900. The new residences are located on an expanded and reshaped main lawn of the campus named Baxter Lawn, nearby other existing residence halls. In order to make room for the new buildings, two older dormitories built in 1949 and 1953 were taken down.
Each of the new residences has a grand central staircase and two wings. Student bedrooms, which are singles or doubles, are clustered around a shared common room with an adjacent pantry. And because close integration of students and faculty is a key component of residential life at Westminster, faculty residences are located on each wing and have studies that open into the student lounges.
Once again, Westminster is on the vanguard of integrating sustainable features into new construction with the use of Energy Star equipment and geothermal heating and cooling in the buildings. The geothermal heat exchange system involves 18 wells that are 500 feet deep and located in lawn areas near the buildings. The system is similar to the one in the school’s Armour Academic Center, which has been a successful benchmark case study that has helped other institutions and corporations in New England pursue the use of geothermal energy. Armour Academic Center, which opened in 2009, earned a LEED gold certification.
Other sustainable features of the new residences include water conservation measures, recycling systems, automatic lighting sensors and an abundance of large windows to reduce the need for artificial light. Each of the buildings also has an elevator and is ADA accessible.
Also part of the project were the construction of a faculty home and three carriage houses that include faculty apartments on the upper level and indoor parking garages on the lower level, and reshaping of the main entrance road to the campus and other campus roads.