Founders Hall Progress: A Bright Spot in Challenging Times

While most of Burr and Burton’s collective attention focused this fall on the challenges of reopening in the face of a pandemic, a beacon of hope and optimism quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) took shape behind the Seminary Building. 

After weeks of preparation and days of blasting, the concrete and metal frame of Founders Hall went up with amazing speed, quickly showcasing the curve of the front wall and the parameters of the courtyard that will soon be filled with the life of campus. By early November, the crowning timber frame itself was in place. 

Now, six months into construction on a project that could have been halted by COVID, BBA’s new 25,000-square-foot building is sealed up for winter interior work, and is, as Headmaster Mark Tashjian says, “on schedule, on budget, and on quality.”

“I am thrilled that we went ahead with Founders Hall rather than putting it off for a year,” Tashjian noted. “We had a great construction team lined up, incredible help on health and safety guidance from the state, and financial resources that could only be spent on this project. We were fortunate to be in a position to put people to work building something for the young people of this community.”

“In the midst of fear in the world, we got to choose hope.” 

With completion still expected early this summer, Founders Hall is already meeting two primary goals—both beautifully expressing the future of education at BBA and standing respectfully in the shadow of Equinox and the Seminary, paying humble and modern homage to both. Looking up Seminary Avenue to the iconic belltower, Founders Hall’s low profile is barely visible between the Seminary Building and the Rowland Center; and multiple vantage points from inside Founders Hall frame the two most enduring symbols of Burr and Burton. 

“It was so important to me to design a building that highlighted BBA’s icons rather than overshadowing them,” remarked design architect and BBA alumnus Kyle Murphy ‘07. “Some buildings make statements. This one makes connections—between our history and our future, and between the landscape and the people who live in it. It’s really an expression of who we are as a school.”

That focus on relationships runs all through the building design, underscoring its purpose as a center for integrative studies. 

“From the flexible classroom space, designed to allow classes to collaborate across disciplines, to the STEAM lab, offering a creative home for multiple forms of hands-on learning, the spaces inside Founders Hall will speak to the way we teach and learn at Burr and Burton,” said Tashjian. “We find connections. We build relationships. We honor difference, we look for commonality, and we draw ideas—and people—together.”

“Soon that will be as much a part of our campus as it is of our character.”