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Transforming the Arts at Deerfield

As the school year comes to a close and students leave for summer break, Deerfield Academy will begin its newest construction project to transform the Memorial Building into the Deerfield Center of the Arts.

“The [Memorial Building] has not had major renovations done since the mid-1980′s,” explained Deerfield’s Associate Head for Operations and Chief Financial Officer Mr. Keith Finan.

After decades of use without restoration, the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems of the Memorial Building are outdated and in need of replacement.  Furthermore, the roof, windows, and doors of the building’s interior also need to be replaced.

Along with keeping the maintenance of the building up to date, there are plans for significant expansion of the Fine Arts Center. “As long as we were undertaking such significant renovations, we decided to look at the needs of the Fine Arts program and create a facility to meet the current and future needs for the respective faculty and students,” said Mr. Finan.

Some of the renovations include new practice rooms for musicians, a recording studio, a new art gallery, five new art studios, and a chamber music hall.

[pullquote_right]“We decided to look at the needs of the Fine Arts program and create a facility to meet the current and future needs for the respective faculty and students.” -Mr. Finan[/pullquote_right]

Another main component of the project is the expansion of the large auditorium. When completed, it will have a seating capacity of 800 and an extended balcony.“The school has grown in the number of students and faculty over this period, and the auditorium can no longer seat everyone,” said Mr. Finan. “Another major reason for this particular renovation was to expand the auditorium seating to allow all students and faculty to be present.”

Deerfield’s commitment to lessening its carbon footprint during construction also contributes to their hope to satisfy certain criteria to qualify as a LEED certified building. In order to be LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the project must follow certain guidelines like reducing waste sent to landfills, conserving energy and water, and lessening the amount of harmful greenhouse gases emitted into the air.“The building will be a LEED certified building which is much more difficult with renovations than with a new building,” noted Mr. Finan. “Some of the factors include energy efficient windows, doors, and low energy lighting. We’ll also pursue an environmentally sensitive recycling process of discarded materials rather than using the landfill, as well as local acquisition of building materials like wood and bricks rather than having them shipped from further but less costly sources.”

The Fine Arts Center is scheduled to be completed by August 2014, in time for the 2014-2015 school year.  Renovations will not begin until this summer, and the Memorial Building lobby will continue to be available for traditional senior activities until the end of the school year.

Although there has been much talk around campus concerning the temporary Fine Arts classrooms on route 5 & 10 and the new class schedules, the administration is confident that these changes are well worth any inconvenience the temporary arrangements may cause. The Deerfield Center of the Arts is sure to benefit present and future students to come.

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