One Step Back, Two Steps Forward: New Building

One+Step+Back%2C+Two+Steps+Forward%3A+New+Building

Robert Mitrani

After a solid eleven months of construction, the new Upper-School building was finally completed on July 20th, 2011 right in time for the 2011-2012 school year. Replacing the A wing buildings, the S building and the ICI, the new building consolidates many facilities and departments of the Upper-School. As the advantages and uses of the new building are still unraveling, the classes of 2012-16 will be the first to experience them.

Reasons for the construction of the new building arose ten years ago when Pine Crest identified the need to renovate the A-wing and the Upper School. In fact, since some buildings of the Upper-School were notably deteriorated with age, it was concluded that the cost of renovation was not worth the end result of salvaging the old Upper-School facilities. Instead, it was agreed upon that a new building that consolidated all the Upper School classes for math, English, world languages and social sciences was a better way to go and would be more cost efficient.

Therefore, once arrangements for the finance of the new building and program were completed, the actual planning of the Upper-School building began a few years ago in 2007. Subsequently, the construction of the new building followed in late August 2010. Despite the success of the assembly of the Upper-School building in such a short time period, its construction was not an easy feat.

“We did have various obstacles, one of which was the aggressive schedule and having to work on a very close site near the occupied building of the A-Wing,” remarked Neyda Otero, Director of Project Management and Construction, “An additional obstacle was that we had numerous existing underground utilities that we had little to no information about, where we had to construct the new building. We had to carefully investigate them during the architectural and engineering phase to ensure that we could work around them until the new utilities were in place and so that we would not be disconnecting systems that were necessary during school.”

However, after all the hard work of the construction crew, the clamoring of machinery and the thunderous noises of the drills, the new building contains many key features that were lacking in the past Upper-School buildings. With covered hallways and indoor passageways, the new building accounts for the inconsistency of South Florida weather. Additionally, the passageways in the buildings – the extended learning corridors – provide students with places to sit and talk outside of the classrooms and in between periods. Finally, and most importantly, the new building consolidates many Upper-School classes. The walking distance that students used to make in between classes in previous years has been considerably reduced with the new building.

When asked about her favorite aspects of the new Upper-School building, Otero replied, “My favorite spaces are the Hollander Student Union and the extended learning corridors.  Both spaces will be transformed by each of you and used in many ways as designed and as we never would have imagined.”