Written by Julian Brenman '20, Co-Editor-in-Chief of FOCUS, Upper School Student Newspaper
Photography contributions by Dorothy Babb '20
An airier footprint, more varied options for seating, an upgraded kitchen, a brand new "food lab," and a cozier, more welcoming facade and foyer are just a few of the many things to which the FCS folks on City Avenue have to look forward when Shallcross Hall reopens its doors in the spring. Construction on the project began in late August, FOCUS wanted to keep the FCS community members in the loop about this exciting and unraveling project right here on our campus. Joining us on this journey-in-journalism include Tom McDaniel, Director of Facilities and Campus Safety; Steve Dolores, Project Manager and former Facilities Director; Chris Rosenbaum, Dining Services Manager; and David Lucey, Superintendent of Construction, W.S. Cumby.
Just before we got the unique opportunity to walk through the construction site, Mr. Rosenbaum told us this project has been a long time in the making. "The process of thinking about a renovation started about 10-15 years ago. We have done some minor renovations, such as installing backpack hooks and adding more serving space, but this is the first major renovation in the building's 36-year history. We had many other ideas about how to enhance Shallcross, including adding another level to the building, and demolishing it and building anew altogether. In the end, we feel we have a great plan now. We are always trying to figure out how to get the biggest bang for our buck."
Mr. Dolores explains that though these renovations are the most visible in Shallcross Hall's three-decade history, it's actually the second phase in a grand plan. "About a year and a half ago, new boilers were installed, and the antiquated heating system was replaced." Mr. McDaniel adds, "There was a lot of construction happening on the campus about 15 years ago. Then it stopped, and now, we're starting it back up again."
After gaining these insights from our guides and putting hardhats on our noggins, we entered the construction zone through the door that leads to what used to be the staff lounge (in the hallway near the bathrooms). After passing the threshold, that location is currently being used as the construction planning area. We then followed the crew to the door students previously used to travel to the Middle School building from Shallcross. That door is obviously out of commission now, and we learned that eventually, it will be removed. Instead, Mr. Deloris explains, "We will be adding a new corridor with an exterior door about halfway through the cafeteria. So, that's how Middle Schoolers will get through."
Later in the tour, we stepped into the very area that once housed the food serving line, as well as the former pasta/soup bar. The serving line is demolished, the furniture, flooring, and walls are removed, and the ceiling has been torn away.
To finish the tour, we went to the former cafeteria itself. Though it looks like not much is happening yet, removed walls now expose beams, and the '80s ceiling tiles and fan have been taken down to show the unfinished ceiling. While new ceilings, floors, lights, and furniture will be installed in the coming months, it's fascinating to see the raw bones of the building.
Within the next few months, community members will be experiencing some dramatically exciting changes on campus. As of early December, the project is now about 50% completed. There have been plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and concrete workers on site who have been applying their trades. The project is at a point where one can see the outline of every room. The metal wall frames have been erected. Over winter break, the restrooms on the first floor of Shallcross Hall were renovated, including new fixtures, tiles, walls, ceilings, floors, doors, stalls, and dividers), as will the hallway that connected the gallery to the nurse's office.
Though he can't make any promises, Mr. McDaniel predicts the project will be completed "sometime in the spring." Mr. Dolores shares, "We really want to finish this before the end of the year for you guys."
The FOCUS team extends a huge "thank you" to all of our guides. Keep checking for future updates!