Saint Michael's College breaks ground on Quad Commons


Construction has begun!

quad commonsSaint Michael's College will hold a ceremonial ground-breaking on a major construction project, the Quad Commons, on Friday, June 8, at 5 PM at the construction site, near the center of the campus of the Burlington-area liberal arts Catholic college.

The Quad Commons, approved unanimously in March by the SMC Board of Trustees, is a two-part project consisting of a student center and a residence hall. The project is the result of an initiative launched in 2009 by SMC President John J. Neuhauser that has involved students, staff and faculty, with the architects, to arrive at the final plans.

"These buildings will provide superb outside-the-classroom learning spaces and living spaces," said President Neuhauser. "We are dedicated to providing our students a campus environment that nourishes growth," he said.

"As a residential college with a superb faculty and a first-rate team of student-life professionals, Saint Michael's is equipped to nurture transformative experiences for young people in their formative years of 18 to 21," the President said. "A real student center—a place to relax, study, gather, exercise—is a necessary element in the educational experience provided by this college."

The new structures, which will be built over the course of 2012 with opening planned for fall 2013, consist of a three-story 40,000 square foot student center and a four-story 43,400 square foot residence hall. These will be situated between the existing quadrangle of residences and linked to those buildings.

"The addition of these buildings will enable us to better serve all students and compete more effectively in the higher education market," President Neuhauser said.

Campus "Front Door"

The Quad Commons with landscaping and pathways will become a new "Front Door" to Saint Michael's, and the tallest building on campus. The student center will open with a striking four-story high grand-façade entryway that repeats the shape of Saint Michael's historic forebear, Pontigny Cathedral in France, which is also echoed in the shape of the Hoehl Welcome Center on campus.

The Quad Commons student center, with open, naturally bright spaces, will be positioned to invite students in, from existing residence halls, as well as from the attached 105-bed new residence, thus becoming a central focal point for the campus, linked also by walkways to the SMC Chapel of Saint Michael the Archangel.

Linking the new Residence Hall for upper level students to the traditional quad dorms housing first-year students will encourage increased interaction and mentoring between them.

The Quad Commons will contain the following

Student center

  • 1st floor: a café, social lounge, grille, acoustically private, yet visually open digital lounge
  • 2nd floor: a fitness center, meeting space, student services offices, game lounge, radio station, table seating
  • 3rd floor: a multi-purpose room with lecture-style seating for 400, or table seating for 225; meditation or interfaith room, solarium with mezzanine

Residence hall

On four levels this structure will provide 105 beds: 15 single rooms, 2 rooms for RAs, and 22 four-person suites.

Energy-efficiency features, including geothermal heat pump system

The Quad Commons will be built with attention to highest efficiency design.

  • The building envelop will use energy modeling software to make best use of energy supply.
  • The HVAC (heating ventilation and air conditioning) systems are based on a geothermal heat pump system with fully integrated components. The underground support for the system will go beneath the green in front of the SMC Library.

"Geothermal is as close to free cooling as you can get," said James P. Farrington, AIA, Saint Michael's associate director of facilities/college architect, and on-campus coordinator of the project.

Vermont Companies make-up the project team:

Freeman French Freeman of Burlington, architects
Dubois & King of Williston, structural engineer
L.N. Consulting of Winooski, Mechanical/Electrical Engineer
Donald L. Hamlin Consulting Engineers of Essex Junction, Civil Engineering & Permitting
SE Group of Burlington, landscape architect
PC Construction of Burlington, construction manager

Other 'green' features

  • The roof insulation values are 50 percent greater than minimal code compliance. And the roof is designed to be fitted in future with solar panels that would produce about 15 percent of the modeled building electrical usage.
  • The large window spaces use high-performance triple pane technology for highest occupant comfort and energy efficiency.
  • Lighting is 60 percent high efficiency fluorescent light fixtures, and 40 percent LED (light emitting diode) lights which reduce energy use by approximately 30 percent.
  • Daylight dimming technology is used throughout central areas to balance interior lighting output with natural daylight.
  • Occupancy sensors in the student center will turn off lights when unoccupied.
  • In sum, the building design is modeled to perform 55 percent better than a current energy-code compliant building.

The tradition of hospitality, developed from the start in 1904 by Saint Michael's founding order of priests, the Society of St. Edmund, has inspired the commitment to expand the welcoming aspects of the college with these new structures.

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