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Sewickley Academy prepared for second phase of renovation

| Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A renovation costing more than $13 million would bring two decades-old Sewickley Academy buildings into the 21st century.

Board members at the Edgeworth school this week approved the second phase of the academy's long-range master plan, which includes updating the senior school Oliver Building for science and expanding the Means Alumni Gym into a multipurpose events center, Head of School Kolia O'Connor said on Wednesday.

The school must present its plans to Edgeworth officials.

Construction in the gym, built in 1962, would include an NCAA regulation basketball court, O'Connor said.

A large indoor facility to house the school's entire student body is lacking on campus, he said.

The enrollment is 720 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and academy officials said numbers have been steady in recent years.

The expansion would allow for all-school assemblies and other school-wide events, including graduation, to be in the gym. Graduation ceremonies have been held outside for the last several years, he said.

The gym would be large enough to accommodate up to 900 people and include retractable bleachers.

O'Connor said the Oliver Building is “in need of renovations to keep pace with innovation with teaching science.”

It was built in 1986 and never underwent any upgrades. The Oliver Building “remains a building reflective of that era,” , O'Connor said.

A complete rehab of the building will bring it up to 21st century standards, and include features such as a robotics lab.

The building will have independent project lab space — something O'Connor likened to art students having personal workspace — to allow students to work on scientific experiments.

O'Connor said the school would work with neighbors as it starts construction, in addition to borough officials.

“Last time we planned a project, neighbor involvement was really important. Our hope is that engaging with our neighbors will ensure that we get the best possible outcomes for all concerned.”

The first phase of work included more green space on campus, a bus turnaround and an on-campus garden.

School leaders want to begin work on the Oliver Building in May and have it reopen by next September. Work on the gym would begin in January 2015 and finish in time for a January 2016 reopening.

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