Mercersburg Fetes New Student Center

CENTERBROOK, Conn. – Mercersburg Academy’s new Simon Student Center, designed by Centerbrook, opened in August, and a month into service it already had received rave reviews from faculty, students, and guests who gathered for the official ribbon cutting ceremony in late September.

The $13.2-million project for the Pennsylvania independent high school consisted of three additions to, as well as top-to-bottom renovation of the previous student center, which was originally carved out of the basement level of the Academy’s dining facility. Dining, kitchen, and servery areas also were expanded and renovated. Construction on the new Center began in May 2012 and was completed on schedule for the current academic year.

The signature feature of the new building is its oval-shaped pavilion with a glass façade that sits atop a stone terrace in a dramatic architectural expression that takes full advantage of the topography, affording a panoramic view of the school’s playing fields. The resulting juxtaposition of new and old establishes a modern, dynamic accent without overwhelming the 50-year-old neo-Georgian dining hall.

Student Council President Gun Ho Ro told the celebratory crowd on September 20, “Tonight is the grand opening, but the students have already been enjoying this space for almost four weeks. I can tell you that we have already found it to be a remarkable place.”

Debbie Rutherford, Associate Head of School, added, “This place just reinforces for me all that is good about our community. When you get the architecture right, whether it's a building or a program, the actual structure melts into the background and possibilities and opportunities abound--and I think that is what has happened here already.”

Head of School Douglas Hale told the gathering, “I can say with complete confidence that all of us—all faculty, all students, everyone—rejoice in this magnificent new student center and the increased scope and vision and usefulness it makes possible for every single student at Mercersburg,”

Partner Chad Floyd, FAIA, led the Centerbrook design team that included Project Manager Stephen Holmes, AIA, LEED AP, Job Captain Dan Batt, AIA, and Laura Taglianetti, AIA, LEED AP. Mercersburg is a prestigious co-ed school with 430 boarding and day students. It counts among its notable alumni seven Rhodes scholars, four recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, one Nobel laureate, and actor Jimmy Stewart.