Higgins and Merriam Architects recognized for design work on Foxcroft Academy’s new dormitory
Dover-Foxcroft — Foxcroft Academy, an independent day and boarding high school in Dover-Foxcroft, recently concluded its Homecoming Week by welcoming the public to a ribbon-cutting ceremony and Open House for The Lodge, the academy’s second on-campus dormitory. The primary purpose of the ceremony was for Head of School Arnold Shorey to publicly recognize the work done by the major stakeholders in the construction project — which wasn’t even green-lighted until Oct. 1 of last year — tell the story of how The Lodge came to be, and highlight some of the building’s attributes.
Shorey first applauded the “decisiveness and courage” of the Foxcroft Academy Board of Trustees — led by Board President Ken Hews — which approved both this project and the renovation of FA’s kitchen last fall. Shorey noted that the story of The Lodge and the kitchen renovation actually started in the spring of 2011 when the board of trustees, as part of their long-term planning initiative, selected the Rockland-based architectural firm of Higgins and Merriam to conduct a 10-year facility study that analyzed potential future expansion and needed upkeep on the current facilities. Many things were identified, two of which were the renovation of the kitchen in order to better support FA’s current day and boarding student population and, by 2015, the construction of a 36-bed dormitory to support the current enrollment of boarding students. The task of turning the facility study into a strategic facility plan then fell to the Foxcroft Academy Building and Grounds Committee, a sub-committee of the board.
The first critical step for the building and grounds committee was to select a design team. Because the committee was so impressed with the quality of the facility study completed by Higgins and Merriam, they selected the firm to design the new dormitory and renovate the academy’s kitchen.
“Higgins and Merriam did not disappoint,” said Shorey. “After gathering input from many stakeholders, they settled on a location for the dorm and designed The Lodge with a ‘Maine flavor’, which is what we desired. From the design to completion, Higgins and Merriam provided FA with a highly professional service.”
Shorey then called forward principle owner Jason Merriam and presented him with an appreciation plaque.
Merriam called Shorey’s recognition of his firm’s work “a great honor,” adding that “this project has been the most rewarding of my career and I have the trustees, the building committee members, Arnold, Tom Nason, our design team, and Bowman Constructors to thank for it.”
He then highlighted some of The Lodge’s features, noting that the building is largely free of PVC materials, is super insulated throughout, has radiant heat floors with high-efficiency LP boilers producing the heat, is fully air conditioned and ventilated, and has sustainable or “green” materials throughout, including rubber tiles, concrete floors, engineered wood floors, wood cabinets, ceramic tile, and fiber cement siding. He also explained that all of the dorm rooms feature high ceilings and large windows to take advantage of natural light, the common bathrooms include custom-built toilet and shower stall walls for durability, quality, and privacy, and the four faculty apartments have an open floor plan with a focus on natural materials, good natural light, and excellent views.
In addition, The Lodge’s entire structure is wood-framed with wood trusses, and the spacious common area features wood beams and wood finishes to accentuate light and a transparency throughout the building. Energy Star-rated lighting is used throughout, the windows are made of Marvin Ultrex fiberglass — a naturally-occurring material that met Merriam’s goal of not using vinyl materials — and efficient low-flow shower heads and low-usage toilets are installed throughout the building. Many of the materials used in the dorm’s construction have recycled content, including the vinyl base in the dorm rooms, the carpet in the bedrooms, and the rubber tiles. The building was also designed in a manner that will allow local contractors to provide maintenance over the life of the building.
After choosing Higgins and Merriam to design The Lodge, the next critical step for the buildings and grounds committee was to select a general contractor to work with in a construction management partnership. After interviewing four companies, the committee selected Bowman Brothers Inc.
“Bowman Brothers hit the ground running,” said Shorey. “They organized the construction schedule, selected sub-contractors with our request of using as many local contractors as possible, rolled up their sleeves, and went to work. They met or exceeded all of our expectations. There were no change orders for either project, which speaks very well of how our design team, buildings and grounds committee, and construction team worked together.”
Shorey then called forward Kevin Bowman, co-president of Bowman Brothers Inc., to receive a plaque “representing our sincerest appreciation for a job well done.”
Bowman graciously received the plaque and spoke about how much he enjoyed partnering with Foxcroft Academy and Higgins and Merriam, and he was effusive in his praise for the many workers who worked day in and day out, regardless of weather conditions, to ensure that the massive construction project was completed on time. He then presented Shorey with a letter in which he and his brother Brian, both graduates of the University of Maine with degrees in engineering and technology, authorized “the board of trustees on behalf of Bowman Constructors to award a $1,000 scholarship to a student from the Foxcroft Academy class of 2013 who seeks a post-secondary education in a construction-related field.”
Shorey then closed the ceremony by calling forward Hews, Merriam, Bowman, and John Wentworth (chair of the building and grounds committee) to cut the ribbon and officially open The Lodge. Guests were then invited to tour the building and view a time-lapse video of the construction project that was created by Jeremy Koch, technology specialist at Foxcroft Academy.