Architect Jacob Higgenbottom, left, and Heather Walters of Thornton Tomasetti explain how the building is energy efficient.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Forty upperclassmen will be taking up residence in the new $9.8 million Garfield House on South Street this fall.
The drafty 1851 Tudor structure with floors so tilted dresser drawers would slide open has been replaced by Williams College with a sunny yellow, three-story, energy-efficient structure.
Some $1.3 million had been invested in the building named after Williams' 9th president, Harry A. Garfield, since the college purchased it for a fraternity in 1924. But after speaking with alum, members of the college community and the Williamstown Historic Commission, project designers determined it was time for the old manse to go.
"We did a followup study to decide if we could repurpose it into current standards of living for Garfield House," said Jacob Higginbottom of SGA Architects at a brief tour offered of the building. "We came to the conclusion that the building had out-served its purpose and needed to be replaced in order to meet our energy and lifestyle goals for the students.
"But what we were able to do is repurpose some of the components of the existing buildings."
Those components can be seen in the common areas — the handcarved emblem from the Delta Upsilon House fraternity, solid wood moldings, and the slate roof that's found a home covering the two-story fireplace.
On the entry level of the 16,000 square-foot building is a lounge, large shared kitchen, secure bicycle room and extra security to access the main living area on the second floor. The second floor has a large central lounge with the aforementioned fireplace, a library cubby, doors to the patio and large lawn and dorm rooms. The third floor has more dorms and a small kitchen; there's washer/dryer access on the second and third floors and gathering areas spread through the building.
"This school was interested in designing the lowest carbon footprint living facility, one of the lowest in the state of Massachusetts, if not the country," Higginbottom said. "And we use Passive House certification as a metric to get us there."
Heather Walters, of Thornton Tomasetti engineering, explained that the first Passive House was built in the United States in 2003. American builders have a hard time meeting the original standards set by the Passive House Institute in Germany because of the wider range of climates in the U.S., she said. The U.S. institute opened in 2005 with variations based on climate zones.
"Passive House building is expected to use 50 to 70 percent less energy than a typical building and 90 to 95 percent less energy for heating and cooling," Walters said. "So the way we like to think about passive houses is you are building a thermos."
The new Garfield House was built with 3 inches of foam insulation on the exterior, 5 1/2 inches of cellulose insulation inside, 4 inches of floor insulation, super high-efficiency windows and an air-exchanger in the attic. And a photovoltaic array on the roof.
"So every single part of the building is almost double the code requirements for installation," Walters said. "Along with that Passive House pays a ton of attention to air infiltration ... so this building wants to be as airtight as possible. And the requirements for Passive House buildings are extremely stringent. ...
"All of them means that this building should operate at about 5,200 kilowatt hours a year per person. So for kind of comparison, see, if you think about a hair dryer, that's about 1,200 watts an hour."
The entire project took about three years with major construction beginning in 2018. The construction manager was Engelberth Construction Co. Inc. and Bruce Decoteau was the Williams project manager.
Editor's note: quote on energy use corrected on Aug. 28, 2019.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to email@example.com.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Williams College senior Summiya Najam has been named a Rhodes Scholar for Pakistan for 2020.
Najam has been selected to join a class of approximately 100 students from more than 60 countries worldwide to receive this distinguished scholarship to study at Oxford University next year. She is Williams' 40th Rhodes Scholar.
Since the establishment of the scholarship in 1902, nearly 8,000 Rhodes Scholars have gone on to serve at the forefront of government, the professions, commerce, the arts, education, research, and other domains. The Rhodes Scholarships for Pakistan are a partnership between the Rhodes Trust and the Second Century Founder John McCall-MacBain.
An economics major from Islamabad, Pakistan, Najam is an applied microeconomist who is committed to bridging the gap between policy and minority experiences.
Last week, the Boston Globe reported that U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling has subpoenaed records in at least six communities, including Great Barrington, the home of Berkshire County's first pot shop opened since recreational marijuana was legalized in the commonwealth.
click for more
Last week's vote tied a financial commitment to the multipurpose building to a decision to spend an equal amount on renovations to the playing fields — a project that already has been bid once but rejected after prices came in significantly higher than expected.
click for more
The indoor sale will feature items such as full- and king-sized bed sets, dressers, nightstands, desks, TV cabinets, sofas, tables, chairs, flat-screen TVs, clocks, lamps, luggage racks, iron/ironing boards, linens, office furniture, mirrors, rugs, microwaves, hotel service carts, maintenance... click for more