The actual groundbreaking for the building was performed by a remote-control shovel-wielding robot built by Newman science students.
For details, see the news release from the school:
Isidore Newman School broke ground Tuesday evening on a state-of-the-art, 30,000 sq. ft. Science and Technology Center on its Uptown campus. The Science and Technology Center will house the Middle and Upper School science program, with floors dedicated to the Life Sciences, Applied Chemistry, and Physics and Design.
An important phase of a long-term master plan to maintain the highest quality educational program for Newman students, the facility will inspire a new generation of leaders in science, engineering, research, medicine, and related fields. It will open in the fall of 2018 after a 15-month construction process overseen by Woodward Design + Build. The $15 million project is being funded through ongoing philanthropic support.
“The new Science and Technology Center will be transformational for Newman,” said Head of School Dale M. Smith. “Perhaps more than any other subject, science instruction is meaningfully enhanced by the physical environment and equipment. With this facility, we are able to improve our already strong academic program to ensure that top-notch science teaching and learning continues for generations of Newman students.”
Newman’s Science and Technology Center is a 30,000 square-foot, three-story facility with nine classroom laboratories and three “signature lab” spaces allowing for special multidisciplinary explorations in areas such as biotechnology, genetic engineering, energy systems, robotics, and design. Classroom laboratories allocate ample space and are outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment to allow experiments to blend seamlessly into classroom instruction.
The building will also house a brand-new Makerspace, which will provide students access to the latest technology to explore limitless possibilities in creative design and problem solving.
Project architect Woodward Design Group drew inspiration from Newman’s original buildings and designed the new Science and Technology Center to fit seamlessly within the context of the historic campus. A grand entrance atrium will span multiple stories, and large windows will provide a light and airy feel. Classrooms will have glass walls to allow students to observe labs and activities taking place within them. Artfully exposed structural beams, electrical conduits, pipes, and HVAC ducts highlight the engineering that lies underneath the structure. The facility itself will be a substantial teaching tool for Newman’s science educators.
In developing this building, Newman was guided by its science faculty and employed a leading national consultant on educational lab design to address the needs of teachers and students with an eye toward 21st-century science. Newman faculty and administrators also toured science facilities at the nation’s top independent schools.
Head of School Dale M. Smith was joined by members of Newman’s Board of Governors, students, faculty, staff, and special guests to break ground on the new facility on Tuesday, April 4, at the building site. After Smith’s welcoming remarks, Newman Board Chair Ann Thorpe Thompson ’74 highlighted science as the most important strategic priority for Newman.
“This groundbreaking fulfills a long-time vision for our school,” Thompson said. “The Board has recognized the critical need to provide students with a science facility to match the caliber of our excellent science program, and I am grateful for their leadership in this effort.”
Dr. TJ Jolly, a Newman parent and Board member, joined Smith and Thompson on the stage as a Board representative.
“As a doctor and an entrepreneur, I am thrilled to be a part of this important effort to build a model science and technology facility for our school and city,” Jolly said. “21st-century science blends disciplines and promotes a mindset of research, experimentation, and creative problem solving. This building will bring grade levels and disciplines together, allowing students to explore science and technology holistically.”
The groundbreaking itself featured science demonstrations by Newman students and faculty. Ground was officially broken by a remote-controlled robot built and operated by Newman students.