The Perkiomen School in Pennsburg will soon begin construction on its 165-acre campus in “a significant step forward” for the school, administrators said.
Mike Foux, Perkiomen’s chief financial officer, said last Thursday the school will build three new dormitories and renovate its dining facility, Parents Hall, as part of a $14 million, multi-phase project set to begin in February 2014.
The school currently educates approximately 350 students in grades 6-12, including post-grad, who hail from 10 states and 25 countries.
The last several years have seen significant improvements to the school’s campus. In 2006 the new academic center, Schumo Hall, was built. In 2009 “Robbies,” the school’s student center, was refurbished and the library was renovated in 2010. In 2012 Perk’s Hollenbach Athletic Center was renovated, including a complete refurbishment of the pool.
“We recognized the dorms and dining hall were out of step with where we need and want to be,” Foux said of the big picture for Perkiomen. “So we started thinking about new dorms…We had student focus groups and input from parents, faculty and trustees. We are very confident it’ll be received very positively. The current dorms are very functional but new facilities will add to the positive energy already on campus.”
The dorms, one male and one female, will be built in two phases, with the first phase beginning this winter. They will be located on a five-acre parcel already home to Parents Hall at Second Street and Silk Alley. Foux said the T-shaped dormitories will hold 16 student rooms each. Each two-story building will be approximately 16,000 sq. ft.
Each dormitory will also house three faculty units, two two-bedrooms and one three-bedroom, to help provide students with that “mom- and dad-type” figure, school officials said. One of the dorms will be named Kolbe Hall in honor of a substantial contribution by an alumnus.
Phase one has a targeted completion date of Aug. 15, 2014.
Perkiomen Headmaster Christopher Tompkins said the construction will be an asset to boarding and day students alike.
“[In addition to providing housing] the dorms attract a strong group of students with whom day students spend their day and the dining hall serves everyone with a student-friendly, student-focused environment. The goal is to retain the small, family-focused school that serves both day and boarding students well.”
After phase one, Christman House and Fritz Cottage, twin residential dorms, will be torn down and the design and construction process for the dining hall and third dorm will begin, Foux said.
All dorm buildings are designed to look more like homes and less institutional, he noted, with brick, hardy plank siding and porches.
Upcoming renovations at Parents Hall will include a complete overhaul of the cafeteria to feature a free-flow or scramble-style serving stations, all-new food prep equipment and new windows.
Foux said a small addition will increase kitchen space minimally and allow for the addition of a foyer to the building to help energy efficiency. Updated, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant bathrooms will also be constructed.
Foux said Parents Hall’s mechanical systems may also be redone.
The Perkiomen School will be repaving Silk Alley and Seminary Street to Silk Alley as part of the project. The school agreed earlier this month to also contribute $15,000 towards Pennsburg Borough’s costs for improvements to Second Street.
This project is a part of a master plan for the school, which officials said includes the eventual replacement of the remainder of the dorms, except for Kriebel Hall, built in 1875. In the future Schultz and Ruhl halls will be demolished.
“This project is far more than a plan, it is a dream,” said Perkiomen Headmaster Christopher Tompkins. “Since arriving at Perk it has been my vision – and dream – along with the board and long-time members of the school community Carol Dougherty and Kevin Manferdini to construct new dorms to match the work [already] completed…With the gift of Eric Kolbe (’61), we were able to embark more quickly to realize the dream, which protects the quality of the school for generations to come.”