-by Betsy Kim and Michaela O’Connor- As progress on the Lubin-O’Donnell Center for Performing Arts, Athletics, and Wellness (LOC) rapidly advances, students can spot visible additions to the building almost every week. What started as a blueprint six years ago has now materialized into a massive, almost monumental structure that towers above Winsor’s classic red-brick building. Current Winsor students have grown so used to construction that it may be difficult for some to think of daily school life without envisioning a familiar yellow crane and orange-jacketed construction workers. The origins of the building, however, can be traced back further than many students may remember. Six years ago, architects from D.C., Bowie Gridley Architects, visited Winsor to survey the school, assessing Winsor’s space needs, location and the design of the building itself and considering the opinions of students, faculty, parents, and alumni. With the assistance of these architects, Winsor created a master plan for the campus.
Next, Winsor hired a group of architects from William Rawn Associates (WRA) and contractors from an assortment of designing and construction companies. Architects from WRA faced multiple difficulties involving the expansion of a small urban school. According to project architect Randy Wilmot, in order to fit the building into its urban backdrop and prevent it from overwhelming other surrounding buildings, “[minimizing] the immense size of the building while stretching the building out” to the maximum was imperative. Winsor’s Director of Construction and Campus Projects John Crompton compared the expansion of Winsor – a small urban school – to “trying to build a building on a postage stamp. When you think about it, the old gym was about 20,000 square feet and the new building…is seven times as large.”
Challenges were met not only in designing the building, but also in obtaining appropriate building materials. Mr. Wilmot explained the painstaking process of choosing the right colors and textures, and described his journey to a quarry in Germany for just one stone. He said, “For the Brookline Avenue façade, the school decided that the building should have a strong urban form using a warm cream/beige colored limestone. In order to get just the right stone that exhibited both a good range of cream/beige… we had to make quarry to Germany.” Both Mr. Wilmot and Mr. Crompton also emphasized the unconventionality of a building that functioned as both an arts and athletics center. “Not an easy assignment when you think of all the bouncing balls thumping off a gym floor…and the quiet solitude needed to practice a specially challenging Mozart piano piece,” Mr. Wilmot stated. The LOC not only pulls off an incredible acoustical feat, providing the space needed for arts and athletic activities, but also allows adequate space for either quiet study or collaboration. Ms. Stettler added, “I think that socialization, community building, and friendship will be really well supported by all the additional places for it. Also, there will be quiet spaces for people to have quiet conversations that aren’t necessarily social but are serious.”
With the LOC about 70% complete, Mr. Crompton, Mr. Wilmot, and Ms. Stettler shared similar hopes for the LOC’s future impact on the Winsor community. Mr. Crompton remarked, “[The LOC] will allow all Winsor girls to expand their Arts and Athletics experiences in ways that could not happen before.” Mr. Wilmot shared the same feelings about the LOC’s versatility, saying, “The LOC will serve all Winsor girls; whether a budding musician, thespian, dancer, or varsity athlete in ways that will support who you choose to become.” Lastly, Ms. Stettler noted that she is “looking forward to how substantially [the new building] will transform the experience for Winsor students.” She said, “I’m really excited about not only supporting the programs we already have, but watching the student experience grow and get even better than it already is!”