Germantown Academy has much to celebrate this year. In addition to celebrating 250 years of non-sectarian, co-educational, college-prep education - the oldest school of its kind in America - GA will move forward this summer with the construction of a new Middle/Upper School building (grades 6-12) that will be LEED certified. Construction of a Wet Meadow project and new outdoor athletic fields has also been approved and will be developed this summer. The new building will give GA approximately 40% more space than it currently has to serve its Middle and Upper School students and faculty, and will be a testament to the integration of environment and academics. It will offer state of the art facilities, accessibility enhancements, environmental sustainability and increased technology.
The construction announcement was made on December 9, 2009 at a special Board of Trustees meeting at the school. Interestingly, it was almost 51 years to the day that the decision was made to leave Germantown when Robert McLean, founder of the Philadelphia Bulletin, offered the school 160 acres of his Fort Washington property.
“We are very excited about the place we are in right now. With building material costs at an all-time low, and banks looking at our school as a sound investment, the Board felt there was no need to delay the start of construction. Our philanthropic fundraising has gone very well over the last several months and we are ready to move forward with the Middle/Upper School building this summer.”
Head of School James W. Connor 1760
Led by project manager Mike Rufo of Rufo Contracting in Conshohocken, architect Maarten Pesch of Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT) in Philadelphia, and INTECH Construction in Philadelphia, Phase I of the $120 million multi-phase campus master plan is in good hands. Temporary classrooms have been constructed on campus, linking the school’s existing facilities with the temporary facility to provide the students and faculty as normal a school day as possible during the transition time. The project is scheduled to be concluded within 15 months.
The $33 million Middle/Upper School building will contain many eco-friendly features, including a rain water harvesting system, advanced mechanical and lighting systems with strong reliance on natural daylighting strategies, a demonstration green roof, and a host of other sustainable features which not only create a high-performance learning environment but also serve as tools for teaching students about sustainable design principles.
One of the unique pieces of Phase I is the development of The Preserve, Wet Meadow and Arboretum, with trees, grasses, and flowering plants native to wetland areas, in six acres adjacent to the Wissahickon Creek. Very few schools enjoy the unique natural landscape of the Germantown Academy campus—considered by many to be among GA's biggest treasures. The Preserve is not only environmentally responsible, but it also will create a landscape of learning for current and future GA students – essentially a classroom without walls!
“The Preserve is really what will set us apart from our peer schools,” Connor continued. “We are fortunate to have a space to create physical areas where our students and faculty can immerse themselves in natural processes and systems with outdoor classroom experiences, hands-on learning and experiments designed to stimulate the curious mind about the world. It is a very exciting time for the GA community, and the community surrounding GA!”
When the entire plan is completed, Germantown Academy will face the future borrowing on its rich history while providing state-of-the-art facilities worthy of 21st century learning.