Feb. 3, 2020 — Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH) is pleased to announce that its board of trustees has approved construction of the Gilder Center, a new $30 million multidisciplinary building that will be home to the school’s math and science departments in the heart of campus.
Mariah D. Calagione ’89, P’18, ’20, chair of the board of trustees, said, “I am thrilled that NMH will create a building that will assert our school’s academic leadership for generations to come. Thank you to the many, many NMH community members who stepped forward to support this initiative.”
The center is named in honor of Richard Gilder ’50, who donated a lead gift of $10 million for the project in 2014, and then pledged an additional $5 million challenge gift in June 2015. Under the terms of the “Gilder Challenge for Innovation and Opportunity,” Gilder donated $1 in financial aid funds to the school for every dollar donated by others toward the construction of the center, up to $5 million. This match has been successfully completed.
The 42,000-square-foot building will provide flexible, multi-use academic spaces; encourage collaboration and innovation across disciplines; and be able to support emerging educational needs over time. With a sustainable design that supports NMH’s goal of reducing its carbon footprint, the Gilder Center will be the “greenest” building on campus.
The building design, by Flansburgh Architects of Boston, honors NMH’s rich architectural history while providing a Silicon Valley-like learning environment. It embraces the overall beauty of the campus as well as specific landscape features, including the nearby Connecticut River.
Site work for the project will begin in March, with construction starting in May. The building is expected to be ready for use during the 2021–22 school year.
Head of School Brian Hargrove said the Gilder Center “will offer our students and their dedicated teachers an extraordinary resource, just as the Silliman Laboratory and the Cutler Science Center did in their time. It will allow them to dream big dreams and explore new horizons together.”
The building’s academic spaces are designed to be adaptable and to foster creativity. They will be configured and furnished to accommodate individual instruction, small-group projects, and larger class activities. Hong Kong Hall, an expansive lobby with glass walls, will enhance the sense of community and collaboration. Classrooms will be able to open onto each other; breakout spaces will allow students to work in small groups or faculty to collaborate; and there will be a makerspace where students can design and fabricate projects.
“Every space in the building is essentially a teaching space and a learning space, a place to collaborate,” said David Croteau, president of Flansburgh Architects. “This is a space for independent work, long-term projects, faculty collaboration, and student-directed study.”
Croteau added, “One of the unique aspects of this school is the strength of its community. The Gilder Center design provides visual connections among everything that is going on to create that feeling of being part of the community.”
Flansburgh designed the Gilder Center to meet sustainability standards laid out in the global “2030 Challenge,” which recommends greenhouse gas-reduction targets for architects and builders, specifically in terms of incorporating materials that are produced using less carbon. For example, the building will be constructed with slate, granite, and cross-laminated timber instead of the less sustainable concrete, metal, and brick. Local materials will be used as much as possible, such as New England granite and slate on the building’s exterior. Sixty trees will be planted around the building.
With a granite facade grounding the building physically and visually, and with stunning views stretching across the Connecticut River, the Gilder Center will create a sense of being grounded in NMH history and also looking to the future. A piece of stone from the historic Silliman Laboratory facade will serve as one of the cornerstones of the new Gilder Center.
This short video will provide a sense of what the building will look like.
Hong Kong Hall Challenge
A group of donors in Hong Kong pooled their donations to create a matching gift opportunity to name the front entrance hall in the Gilder Center. Gifts of all sizes and for any purpose from alumni, parents, and friends connected to Hong Kong were matched, exceeding the challenge and resulting in a $2.75 million pooled gift. The names of all donors will be listed on a plaque that will hang prominently in the hall.