Vassar Science Project/Sanders Physics – Meyer Contracting Corporation
When Henry Sanders died in 1921, he left $150,000 to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, to construct a physics building in his name. Sanders Physics, completed in 1926, continued Vassar’s tradition of scientific excellence with its state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. The home to the department of physics, astronomy and computer science recently underwent a $14 million renovation that spanned from fall 2013 to August 2014.
For general contracting services on the project, Vassar turned to Meyer Contracting Corporation based in Pleasant Valley, New York. Meyer Contracting has been serving clients in the mid-Hudson Valley for 30 years. Founded in 1986, the company was first known as Meyer Builders of Pleasant Valley. The company quickly gained a reputation for reliability and quality work. After its early success, the company changed its name to its current branding in 1994.
Meyer worked in conjunction with numerous subcontractors from its strong network of strategic partners to pull off the impressive feat of increasing the usable space within Sanders Physics by 4,634 square feet without expanding the building envelope. The project captured additional space by converting the third-floor attic into classrooms, a conference room, a lounge and faculty offices.
Innovation through restoration
Throughout the renovation of Sanders Physics, Meyer took an aesthetic approach to restoring and maintaining the historical aspect of the nearly 100-year-old building. With many original materials still intact, Meyer removed every window and sent them to a shop where they underwent a complete historical restoration process, which included new glass and hardware, before being hung back in place.
Jeff Peni, project manager for Meyer, says that one of the more notable aspects of the Sanders Physics project was the installation of a large reverberation chamber, which is used for testing sound waves. “This was a first for Meyer Contracting,” says Peni. “We worked closely with the specialty subcontractor to meet the foundation and isolation requirements for the proper installation and function of the chamber.”
He also points out that other highlights of the project include the copper roof of the building, as well as the implementation of modern materials into the facility, which are still able to maintain the historical aspect of Sanders Physics. “The architects really found a great balance between modern and historical through the use of materials,” says Peni.
Another interesting challenge for Meyer was the fact that the construction of Sanders Physics took place on an active campus. “We had to be careful to not disrupt any other student activities,” says Peni. “It was also a relatively tight schedule. The building had to be ready for student use by fall semester 2014.”
A green facility
Sanders Physics has achieved LEED- certification due to its numerous energy- and resource-saving aspects. The installation of a heat-energy recovery HVAC system, efficient lighting and room occupancy sensors have resulted in 23 percent less energy use with an annual monetary savings of 17 percent.
Water-conserving aspects such as drip irrigation and rain sensors have reduced the amount of potable water usage by 36 percent — approximately 45,000 gallons per year. Careful selection of local plant species robust enough to survive the heat and drought stresses that climate change is likely to bring contributed, as well as the installation of water conserving watering technology.
A confirmed 80 percent (631,000 tons) of the waste generated during the construction of Sanders Physics was diverted from landfill. Additionally, the facility was fitted with CO2 meters to monitor indoor air quality.
With the completion of Sanders Physics, Meyer will add to its portfolio a project that exemplifies its ability to work in a vast range of sectors under a tight schedule and hard deadline. Vassar College has received a product that adds a progressive aspect to its science and technology studies, while maintaining and honoring the legacy and history of a man who contributed so much to Vassar College.
As Meyer looks to the future, the company will continue to focus on providing its customers with a positive construction experience investing in customer relations. With a strong management system, financial strength, access to innovative technology and a proven ability to meet aggressive project schedules, Meyer Contracting Corporation possesses all of the elements that make for a successful construction project, regardless of size or scope.
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