Gifford School Rebuilds After Fire

When an early-morning fire destroyed The Gifford School’s multi-use Fenn Center on December 23, Executive Director Mike Bassichis reassured the Weston school’s students and families that it would be rebuilt. Last week, that rebuilding effort took an important symbolic step forward with a groundbreaking ceremony attended by students, faculty, and board members.
Bassichis briefly addressed the group before distributing shovels to a few students, who did the honors. One of those shovels, Bassichis noted, had been used at the groundbreaking for the original Fenn Center twenty years before.

Chapman also attended both events—the original Fenn Center was the first of many projects in our long relationship with the school.

Like the original, the new Fenn Center will be a multi-use facility. It will feature: a gymnasium; science, arts, and culinary classrooms; a nurse’s office; room for the school’s physical education and occupational therapy programs; and space for performances. Unlike the original, the new building will protected with an automatic sprinkler system and include a full-sized, two-stop elevator.
As with all of Chapman’s projects, the new Fenn Center incorporates a number of sustainable strategies including: energy recovery ventilators, which use the heat from exhaust air to warm incoming fresh air; fiber-cement siding and trim, which is more durable and water-resistant than wood; high efficiency fluorescent lighting; and spray foam insulation, which resists heat loss and gain better than fiberglass and prevents thermal bridging and moisture transfer.

Chapman’s Fenn Center team includes Vice President Bob D’Amico, Senior Project Manager George Dyroff, and Senior Construction Supervisor Ken Bumpus. The project is scheduled to be completed next spring.

To learn more about The Gifford School and its mission, please visit their website at

published 07.07.2010

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