There are many uncertainties as we face the immediate future. Along with thinking about online education, possibilities for commencement, summer camps and more, we have had a series of discussions about Founders Hall, our 25,000 square-foot center for integrated learning design by BBA alum Kyle Murphy, our partner architecture firm ZGF, and our educational team here at BBA.
After extensive conversations and analysis with our construction firm, DEW, we have reached the decision that we will move forward as planned with the construction of Founders Hall now rather than later. We expect to break ground in the coming weeks.
One risk of launching now is that the project could get shut down if there is a flareup of COVID 19. DEW has developed a thoughtful plan to deal with this possibility, and we have determined that the financial risk associated with a possible shut down is manageable. (Conversely, there is a real risk that the cost could rise were we to wait a year, especially in view of the fact that materials could be in short supply.)
Most important, DEW has a superb plan in place for how to manage the construction site with enhanced safety procedures to ensure social distancing and minimize physical contact. We have an A-Team list of subcontractors, all of whom are fully available and eager to get back to work.
We are also cognizant of our role as a leader in the community, and we have the opportunity to put people back to work. There will be millions of dollars worth of wages embedded in this project, and those dollars will go right back into the Vermont economy. This project will unquestionably help Vermont get back on its feet.
We recognize that some might consider it extravagant to build a new building in the face of so much uncertainty and economic hardship. We recognize our good fortune of having a project that is fully funded thanks to Wendy and Barry Rowland, and while some might criticize this action, we can’t see how it helps our students, faculty and staff, or communities to keep this funding in a savings account rather than putting it—and therefore people—to work.
Ultimately, we have a really exciting project: a building developed with great vision that will have tremendous impact educationally and architecturally. We have a community that needs work. We can help pave the way to economic recovery. We are positioned to lead economically as well as educationally, and that is what we will do.
The theme of the Rowland Project has been Imagine The Future. That theme will shift to Building The Future.
We wish you all good health and look forward to the day when we can join together again as a community.
Mark H Tashjian Seth Bongartz
Headmaster Chair of the Board
Building The Future