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Good Neighbor

PROJECT
The Welcome & Admissions Center at Roger H. Perry Hall, Champlain College, Burlington, VT

ARCHITECT
Goody Clancy, Boston, MA: Jean Carroon, FAIA, LEED AP, principal in charge; Susan Hollister, AIA, LEED AP, project architect

CONSTRUCTION MANAGER AND GENERAL CONTRACTOR
Engelberth Construction, Inc., Colchester, VT

By Hadiya Strasberg

Champlain College, a private baccalaureate institution in the historic Hill Section of Burlington, VT, comprises nearly 40 buildings on 22 acres. The school is committed to being a good neighbor in the largely residential area, and to this end integrates Victorian-era mansions along with modern, high-tech facilities. In 2009 and 2010, one such mansion was sustainably restored to create a welcome center for prospective students.

Like many of its neighbors, the Welcome & Admissions Center at Roger H. Perry Hall was once a private residence. Built in 1859, the Italianate-style brick building features wide eaves with corbels, low-pitched roofs, decorative moldings and casework, and intricate hardware and lighting. The building was purchased by Champlain College in 2004, and renovations began in May 2009.

Working with the Boston-based design and planning firm Goody Clancy, the college chose to make relatively few changes to the 9,676-sq.ft. existing building, which now coexists with a 17,167-sq.ft. modern addition. "The house was more than 150 years-old, but it had been fairly well maintained and most elements were found to be remarkably intact," says Jean Carroon, FAIA, LEED AP, principal in charge. "All of the wood windows were in good shape, the engraved door hardware was original, and the inlaid flooring could be restored."

Other members of the Goody Clancy design team included Susan Hollister, AIA, LEED AP, project architect, Susan D. Pranger, AIA, LEED AP, senior associate; Heather Leibman, LEED AP, construction lead; Nicole Sakr, design team, and Carrie Goodfriend, design team. Consultants included MEP Engineers; L.N. Consulting, Inc., Winooski, VT; ORW Landscape Architects & Planners, White River Junction, VT; Engineering Ventures, Inc., Burlington, VT, and Collaborative Lighting, Concord, MA.

Perry Hall's exterior required some attention, including brick re-pointing and cleaning by Listz Historical Restoration, and replacement of the slate roof by AC Hathorne Company of Williston, VT. Burlington-based craftspeople from Wanamaker Restoration restored the windows and other interior woodwork. "We were able to retain the old windows, which really aided in our goal to preserve the historic character of the building," says Carroon. "There were no concerns about energy loss from the windows, because the air-infiltration report proved that they were airtight. Also, they were a relatively small part of the exterior envelope and the masonry bearing walls were extremely dense."

The interior architecture of every room was restored to its 19th-century appearance. An adjoining living room and parlor on the west side of the second floor (or main level) became a reception area, and a library at the northeast corner on the second floor now serves as a showroom for memorabilia of Burlington's Hill Section. A fourth room on this level was once a bedroom; it is now used as a conference room.

Four spacious offices can be found on the third floor in the original bedrooms. A central north-south stair and hall divides the four rooms, one in each corner of the building. "Each of these rooms has plank ceilings with beautiful decorative moldings on top," says Carroon. "We were able to restore the ceilings without replacing any planks, and the woodwork came together seamlessly." Woodwork is highlighted in the rooms on the second floor, as well. Door and window trim, and chair railing and casework in a dark, rich finish are architectural focal points. The wood is primarily Butternut, a white walnut tree. Oak was used for some of the decorative elements and many of the window sashes. Other special features of the second- and third-floor rooms are the decorative mantels in each space, all of which were dirty but sound.

Five-globe brass chandeliers from Rejuvenation Lighting in Portland, OR, hang in each reception room, adding a touch of elegance. Period-appropriate pendant fixtures from Rejuvenation's Period Basics Collection were chosen for the second-floor office spaces, the hallway, foyer and front porch.

One of the most important design decisions made in the restoration of Perry Hall was to hide the mechanical systems. All of the systems were upgraded and relegated either to a section of the first floor or to the attic. "With the systems out of the way of the prime spaces, we were able to better preserve the historic appearance," says Carroon.

Goody Clancy worked with Champlain College to meet the school's commitment to sustainable initiatives. "In its 2004 master campus plan, the college identified environmental and social responsibility as one of its chief missions," says Carroon, "which aligns with Goody Clancy's principles, too."

Numerous high-performance, energy-efficient systems were implemented, including geothermal wells with a heat-pump system for heating and cooling, energy-efficient lighting and climate-control systems. A storm-water catchment system was installed beyond the west courtyard since many of the buildings on campus are sited on a hill. Another "green" feature is a green screen on the south, which provides shade, promotes natural cooling, and improves air quality. With a sustainable solution for every system, Champlain College is seeking LEED Platinum certification for Perry Hall.

Besides historic Perry Hall, the Welcome and Admissions Center comprises two additions – a two-story brick wing to the south that was built in the 1870s, and a modern addition to the west designed by Goody Clancy in conjunction with the renovation project. The former, the first modification to the original building, is in keeping with the style of the old Italianate residence with brick façades, wood windows, and a low-pitched roof. "This wing required structural work," says Carroon. "We took some liberties with the design, because it was an addition."

A new wood porch, which matches the footprint of an early-20th-century Sanborn map, provides an accessible entrance, and the interior plan was altered. The kitchen was gutted, and this and other rooms were usurped for egress, bathrooms, support rooms, and, on the top floor, offices. "When it came to changing or adding elements, we utilized the original building and historic photographs as our guide and inspiration," says Carroon. "For example, we knew there had been a front porch and a roof cupola, but we didn't have an exact record of either, so we created a simple period-appropriate porch and left out the cupola until better documentation surfaces."

The historic building isn't overwhelmed by the modern addition, but shaped it. "The new building is quite large, but it's subservient to the main house from the main street," says Carroon. "It responds to the main house and the site through massing and views."

The new "building" is actually two buildings that allow the views from the historic house out to Lake Champlain, and the program was divided between the two – the north pavilion houses offices, and the south pavilion has a generously sized assembly/presentation room. "The south pavilion is lower and smaller so it hides behind the smaller part of the historic building," says Carroon. "The parti for what was visible from the street was that it would be a modern interpretation of the porch additions so common in the neighborhood. Though the addition is curtain-wall construction, it maintains a rhythm and scale sympathetic to that of the historic building."

Construction of the Welcome & Admissions Center at Roger H. Perry Hall was completed in August 2010, and the project earned a Vermont Public Spaces Award for 2011. Just as Champlain College intended, the historic building is rooted in history and the community. "By preserving the original building and its views, we were able to create a new keystone for the campus," says Carroon. "The experience is then enhanced with the modern addition. The building will engage new students and serve the college for over 100 years."  TB

 


Hadiya Strasberg, a design writer/editor, has written for both Traditional Building and Period Homes magazines. She served as the editor of Period Homes magazine from 2005-2008. She is an M.Arch. candidate in her final year at Massachusetts College of Art & Design in Boston, MA.

 

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