It is an exciting time at St. Mark’s, as the School’s physical plant continues to undergo its most extensive renovations since the main building was completed in the 1890s. Already there is a new ceramics and sculpture studio in the basement of Taft Hall, along with a new photography classroom, as for the first time all of the arts are now located in the Putnam Family Arts Center complex. New group study/tutorial spaces are now part of the library’s second story, while an area for student activities has been created on the ground floor there. Work on the history wing-- with the renovation of its lobby space-- has been completed, and the area once known as the Red Hall now houses a new conference room and offices for college counseling, Dean of Faculty, etc.
The reception area at the front of the School has been redone, with an expanded Admission Parlor and more. The area outside of the Hinkle Room has also undergone restoration. These completed projects are the first phase of renovations under the St. Mark’s Strategic Plan 2020. Construction continues on the old Forbes Center and adjacent areas. This will become the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, according to the Strategic Plan intended to “identify, adapt, and introduce new educational approaches, support faculty development, and provide enrichment and academic support for students.” In addition, a new Forbes will be located below the Center, and an adjacent downstairs area between outer Forbes and the Lion’s Den will be converted into a day student area for Burnett House. Also, the Tech Help Desk will eventually be relocated to the main floor of the library, at the northwest end.
With all that is going on, St. Mark’s is ready to open its doors with a full program for 2012-13. Dean of Students Dave Vachris hopes to hold all-school meetings outside as weather permits, and in Benson otherwise. The Bookstore is up and running at its temporary home in the Parkman Room, and Mrs. Umiker is ready to welcome all customers. Routes to certain classrooms may seem somewhat circuitous at first, but the School’s rich academic curriculum will not be impacted.
Traffic plans—clearly marked signs—are in place, along with specific signage limiting access to areas still under construction, in order to ensure safety and security for all. The entire project is being done on the existing main building footprint, guaranteeing a level of sustainability by not permanently encroaching on open space immediately around the structure. Work is scheduled to go on until after Spring Break 2013.
Already students are returning to campus-- student leaders preparing for orientation and student athletes for pre-season practice-- and it looks to be an exciting, successful year ahead for the St. Mark's community.