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The drafty 1851 Tudor structure with floors so tilted dresser drawers would slide open has been replaced by Williams College with a sunny yellow, three-story, energy-efficient structure.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.
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Williams College Announces Four Recipients of Olmsted Awards for Secondary School Teachers
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Williams College has awarded the annual George Olmsted Jr. Class of 1924 Prize for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching to four outstanding high school teachers.
The recipients are Katherine D. Nuzzo, a chemistry teacher at Joel Barlow High School in Redding, Conn.; Lois Sauberlich, an English teacher at Wrightstown High School in Wrightstown, Wis.; Brian Sheehy, a history teacher at North Andover High School in North Andover, Mass.; and Nickolas T. Wilson, a former English teacher at Northcoast Preparatory Academy in Arcata, Calif., and current English teacher at Durham High School in Durham, Calif.
Each year, Williams seniors nominate high school teachers who played influential roles in their lives and education. A committee of faculty, staff and students choose winners from among the nominees. Recipients of the award receive $3,000, and an additional $5,000 is given to each recipient's school. The Olmsted Prize was established in 1976 with an endowment from the estates of George Olmsted Jr. and his wife, Frances.
Katherine D. Nuzzo, Joel Barlow High School, Redding, Conn.
Megan Siedman ’20 reflected on her time as Nuzzo’s student in saying, "She has made me a problem solver, a future educator, and, in so many ways, someone who was capable of graduating from Williams College." Nuzzo is committed to helping her students reach their full potential both inside and outside of the classroom, and Siedman noted that Nuzzo encouraged her students to pursue every opportunity and challenge, fostering deep personal connections with them.
Since 1996 Nuzzo has taught chemistry at Joel Barlow High School. Beyond the classroom she has brought several programs to the school, including Unified Wellness, a program that brings together general education students, local gardeners, and students with special needs; the Connecticut Science Fair; and the Sikorsky STEM Challenge, in which students apply their STEM knowledge to solve a real-world problem. Nuzzo cares about the entire school community, and is a mentor for new teachers. Trained in social and emotional learning (SEL), she has spearheaded school-wide efforts to spread the SEL message among all members of the community.
Nuzzo sees her classroom as a place to learn real-world skills and reminds students to "be kind, do the right thing, know yourself and take care of yourself mentally and physically. Be flexible, find your passion, take risks, failure is how we learn, grades aren't who you are, but where you were at that moment in time, discover how you learn best, find your humor and above all become a contributing member of your community." Joel Barlow High School’s Head of School Gina M. Pin called Nuzzo "a changemaker who builds sustainability by shifting responsibilities to the students. [She] trusts the abilities of all students and challenges them all to think more deeply."
Lois Sauberlich, Wrightstown High School, Wrightstown, Wis.
Landon Marchant ’20 called Sauberlich "a tireless defender and advocate for those who cannot speak up or need an ally. Lois taught me what it looks like to stand up for oneself as well as others, when to be quiet and when to raise hell — a lesson that has informed my advocacy and life." Marchant added. "When I attended high school, no one talked about PFLAG, GLAAD, or HRC. We didn't use words like 'multiculturalism,' 'intersectionality,’ or ‘privilege.’ But Lois saw injustice and hurt, saw children wondering if they belonged in this world, and saw potential — she took all that in, and gave us everything."
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